What Is a Hero Image? Definition, Examples & Best Practices

What Is a Hero Image? hero image

A hero image isn’t a caped crusader, but it does play a heroic role. A hero image is a large, attention-grabbing banner or visual element at the top of a webpage, instantly capturing visitors’ attention.

In this article, we’ll dive into the definition, explore inspiring examples, and unveil best practices for effectively harnessing the power of hero images in your website design endeavors.

Whether you’re building a website for personal expression or business success, understanding the essence of a hero image is your first step toward a captivating online presence.

Takeaways
  • Oversized files can slow down your site, while undersized images may appear pixelated on larger screens.
  • Hero images significantly influence user perception, website traffic, and conversion rates
  • Original graphics often outperform stock photos, with 40% of content marketers finding success with the former.
  • Avoiding stereotypes and showcasing diversity in hero images contributes to an authentic and inclusive brand.
  • WordPress themes allow you to update your site’s appearance without altering its core content and functionality.
  • Be mindful of pitfalls like using excessively large images, adding visuals without purpose, and neglecting fundamental graphic design principles

What Is a Hero Image?

A hero image, also called a “hero header,” is an essential element in website design. It takes the form of an oversized banner image prominently positioned at the top of a webpage, typically extending the entire width of the screen.

But a hero image is more than just aesthetics; it’s a strategic tool. In addition to displaying a high-resolution graphic, a hero image often contains your company’s unique selling point (USP) and a clear conversion goal. This could invite you to sign up, explore your products, or engage with your content.

As web design continually evolves, a notable trend is incorporating videos and animations into hero images, adding dynamic flair to the user experience.

Whether you’re jumping into web design, marketing, or simply curious about the evolving digital landscape, understanding hero images’ role and best practices is crucial for making a lasting impact.

What Is a Hero Image on a Website?

A perfect hero image is an oversized, attention-grabbing banner at the top of a webpage, typically extending full width. It serves as the initial focal point for visitors, encapsulating a website’s essence and purpose.

Beyond aesthetics, a hero image communicates a company’s unique selling points and often includes a clear call to action, making it a vital component of modern web design.

What Is a Hero Image in Marketing?

In marketing, a hero image is a powerful visual element that sets the tone for campaigns. It’s not just about stock images; it’s about selecting visuals that evoke emotions and resonate with the target audience.

A hero image in marketing is the initial point of connection, capturing attention and effectively conveying brand identity, values, and messages.

What Is a Hero Image in a Portfolio?

A hero image in a portfolio serves a slightly different purpose than in marketing or website design. In this context, it’s a showcase of your best work—a striking visual introduction to your creative talents. It embodies your artistic style, highlights your skills, and aims to captivate potential clients or employers.

It’s less about evoking emotion and more about demonstrating your expertise and capabilities within your chosen field.

Why Use a Hero Image on a Website?

The answer lies in a hero image’s pivotal role in creating captivating web experiences. As the first impression visitors encounter, hero images have the power to engage, inform, and entice. In this section, we’ll get into the compelling reasons behind incorporating hero images into your website design arsenal.

Impress and Attract Visitors

In the realm of web design, hero image design is the ultimate attention-grabber. It elevates your website’s visual appeal, using captivating graphics and dynamic elements to engage visitors instantly.

A strategically chosen hero image can convey your brand’s essence, products, or services at a glance, leaving a lasting impression that entices users to explore further.

Enhanced Navigation

A well-crafted hero image isn’t just about aesthetics; it serves as a navigational guide. It provides visitors with a visual cue about the content and strategically directs their attention to the call-to-action button.

By aligning the hero image with the website’s goals, you create an intuitive path for users to explore further, boosting engagement and conversions.

Knowledge and Information

A beautiful hero image isn’t merely decorative; it’s an informative asset. It can convey essential information, set the context, and establish the website’s theme. Whether it’s showcasing a product, highlighting a service, or sharing a message, a well-crafted hero image adds depth and clarity to your content, helping visitors quickly grasp what your site offers.

Provoke Feelings in Visitors

Harnessing the emotional appeal of a hero image is an art in web design. It’s about using visuals to evoke emotions that resonate with your audience. When you master how to create a website with a hero image that strikes the right emotional chord, you entice visitors to connect on a deeper level, fostering engagement and a memorable user experience.

Aesthetic Pleasure

In the design process, a well-selected hero image isn’t just a visual treat—it’s a strategic tool for content marketing. It enhances the overall aesthetics of your website, creating a visually appealing and memorable experience for visitors.

Aesthetically pleasing hero images elevate your brand’s image and draw users into your content, setting the stage for effective content marketing efforts.

Hero Image Examples and Design Options

When it comes to incorporating hero images into your website, the design possibilities are as diverse as your creative vision. In this section, we’ll explore various design options that can make your hero image truly stand out.

From emphasizing your product to evoking emotions, we’ll provide specific examples showcasing how each design option can elevate your web presence and engage your audience effectively.

Emphasis on the Product

In web design, emphasizing your product through a hero image is a compelling strategy. Take the example of Winky Lux, who elegantly features their “Aurora Balm” lipstick product in their hero image.

By placing the spotlight on the product, showcasing its colors, and maintaining a clean, minimalist backdrop, they effectively draw attention to the key offering, inviting visitors to explore further.

Close-up of lipstick in front of a multi-color rock, against a purple background.

Basic Representation

Sometimes less is more, and that’s precisely what Atlassian demonstrates with their hero image. A clean, uncluttered background and their tagline, “Impossible Alone. Possible Together,” take center stage.

This minimalist approach allows for basic yet powerful representation, effectively conveying a straightforward message that resonates with the audience. Simple hero images can often speak volumes.

The Human Element

For dating websites, a hero image with the human element is essential. eHarmony, for instance, does this masterfully with an image of content, happy couple. Their relaxed, genuine interaction conveys a sense of connection that is essential for a platform where human relationships are the focus.

A well-chosen hero image like this creates an inviting atmosphere, reassuring potential users of the site’s authenticity.

Couple laughing together.

Highlight Benefits

Hero images can spotlight the benefits of a product or service effectively. Great Clips, for example, showcases a man delighted with his haircut, reinforcing the benefit of confidence.

Such images instantly communicate the value proposition, helping visitors connect with the tangible advantages your brand offers. Benefit-focused hero images can be a compelling driver of engagement and conversions.

Man wearing blue shirt has hand on his head and is smiling because he likes his haircut. In the center of the image, it reads

A blue and yellow website representing Atlassian's approach to collaboration.

Stir Up Feelings

A hero image’s power lies in its ability to evoke emotions. Girls Chronically Rock demonstrates this beautifully by featuring an image of a woman with Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy. Her thoughtful gaze stirs empathy and connection.

Such hero images not only tell stories but also create emotional responses in site visitors, making your website memorable and impactful.

Bald woman sitting in chair, looking off to the side. Implies she is fighting a health battle.

Dynamic Hero Image

Dynamic hero images offer versatility by allowing content variation while maintaining a fixed design. Back Yard Burgers, for instance, employs a dynamic approach with a carousel of hero images, showcasing various views of their offerings.

This dynamic element adds visual interest and keeps the content fresh, engaging visitors with different facets of your brand or products.

A burger with a drink and a cup. Tagline set on top reads “deliciously convenient.”

Abstract Compositions

Aesthetics play a pivotal role in enhancing user experiences. TublikBlog does this brilliantly with an abstract hero image that prioritizes functionality and captivates visually.

Abstract compositions like this elevate a website’s desirability, delivering information and aesthetics in one striking package, making the site more appealing and memorable.

Abstract cartoon/sketch of a person wearing black and sunglasses. Holding a white animal, possibly a raccoon.

Soft Color Schemes

With adults spending nearly eight hours daily on digital media, web designers are opting for hero images with soothing, neutral color palettes. This trend, seen on websites like ThirdLove, is especially prevalent in retail, wellness, and medical domains.

Soft colors not only ease eye strain but also evoke specific emotions and themes, as exemplified by ThirdLove’s use of soft hues to express femininity and create a visually comfortable experience.

A group of women posing for a photo, wearing bras and panties. Image against a soft pinkish-brown background. ThirdLove: Bra advertisement.

Lifelike Color

Immersive 3-D shading has become increasingly popular in hero imagery! The trend of lifelike hero images aims to transport users into the digital realm. Achieved through gradients, shadows, and blended colors, this trend creates a sense of depth and realism.

While it’s prominent in tech and apps, it’s a fantastic way to draw visitors into your website’s world. A striking example can be seen on Behance, featuring a single lipstick stick against a gradient of rich red shades.

A pink lipstick on a red gradated square background.

Hero Image in Web Design: Best Practices

A well-crafted hero image can be a game-changer for your website, boosting traffic and conversion rates. It’s your canvas to unleash creativity beyond standard stock photography, incorporating animations, carousels, or scroll-triggered effects.

However, a misjudged hero image can mar an otherwise stellar design. Off-brand visuals, oversized files that slow loading, and uninspiring content can deter users.

One critical aspect often overlooked is file size. Too large, and your loading speed plummets; too small, and pixelation spoils the show. Before we delve into hero image sizes, let’s clarify different graphic types to ensure you create stunning images every time.

Hero Image Graphic Types

As far as hero images go, three key graphic types take center stage: photos, illustrations, and 3D graphics. Each has its unique strengths and applications, offering versatility in crafting captivating visuals for your website’s hero sections.

Let’s explore these graphic types in detail to unleash their full potential.

Photos

Photos are a classic choice for hero images. They capture real-life moments, products, or people, instantly connecting with viewers. High-quality, authentic photos can convey trust and credibility, making them ideal for showcasing products, telling stories, or introducing team members.

A careful selection of photos that align with your brand’s tone and messaging is crucial for an impactful hero image.

Illustrations

Great hero images don’t always rely on photos; custom graphics and illustrations have their allure. When you need to convey abstract concepts, highlight brand personality, or create a whimsical atmosphere, illustrations shine.

They offer flexibility in storytelling, allowing you to craft unique, visually striking scenes that align perfectly with your message and brand identity.

3D Graphics

3D graphics are the epitome of engaging visuals in hero images. They add depth, realism, and a touch of sophistication to your design. Ideal for showcasing products, architectural renderings, or complex concepts, 3D elements elevate your hero image.

They can seamlessly blend with other elements, creating a captivating visual experience that stays with your audience.

Hero Image Dimensions

The right hero image dimensions are essential for a stellar website. Whether you’re diving into animated hero images, crafting a full-screen hero image, optimizing for mobile, or ensuring smooth hero image compression, we’ve got you covered.

Let’s get into the precise guidance for full-screen and banner hero images, explore mobile hero images, and demystify the art of hero image compression for a seamless web experience.

  1. Full-Screen and Banner Hero Image Dimensions

For impactful full-screen hero images, aim for 1,200 pixels in width with a 16:9 aspect ratio. Meanwhile, banner hero images shine at 1600 x 500 pixels. If you crave crystal-clear visuals or cater to large screens, consider upsizing to 1,800 pixels—just be cautious of potential slower site speed due to larger file sizes.

To keep loading times in check, assess your site’s performance with Google’s PageSpeed Insights. Aim for a brisk page load time of one to two seconds, as longer delays risk losing impatient visitors.

  1. Mobile Hero Image Dimensions

Optimal dimensions for mobile hero images are 800 x 1,200 pixels. With nearly 55% of global website traffic originating from mobile devices in 2021, mobile experience is non-negotiable.

Your hero image design should be responsive, adapting seamlessly to both vertical (phone) and horizontal (tablet) orientations. While dynamic hero images shine on desktops, they often require static counterparts for mobile users, as videos can slow load times and strain data plans.

  1. Hero Image Compression

Compression is key for hero images with hefty file sizes (anything over 1MB is too large). Tools like TinyJPG, Compress JPEG, ShortPixel, or Adobe’s Photoshop Compressor can effectively shrink the size without compromising quality. However, ensure correct dimensions beforehand to prevent blurriness or stretching.

To size your hero image optimally, analyze your website visitors’ typical screen resolutions via Google Analytics. Tailor your design with this target audience in mind, and rigorously test the image’s scaling on various browsers, screens, and mobile devices. Once dimensions are spot-on, integrate it seamlessly into your web page using HTML and CSS.

Hero Image HTML

HTML is a coding language composed of elements that organize and structure a web page. HTML empowers you to seamlessly embed content, including captivating hero images, into your site.

While HTML positions elements, it’s CSS that transforms them into visually appealing assets. Navigating this requires coding prowess, so consider refreshing your HTML and CSS skills or collaborating with a skilled developer to ensure your hero image shines on your webpage.

StepDescription
Create the StructureDefine the HTML structure for the hero image using div containers to layout image, text, and buttons.
Add Your ContentInsert the image, text, and additional content within the designated div containers.
Center the ContentAlign the background image by creating a flex container in the .hero element using attributes like “display,” “justify-content,” and “align-items.”
Make it ResponsiveImplement responsive design with CSS media queries to adjust image sizes and text formatting for different screen sizes.
Test the ViewThoroughly test the hero image on various devices and browsers to ensure proper display, responsiveness, and visual appeal.

Responsive Hero Image CSS

CSS, a rule-based language, complements HTML by adding style to elements. For instance, CSS can make your hero image header text vibrant yellow against a purple backdrop, ensuring it grabs attention.

Neglecting CSS leaves HTML elements with default browser properties. Utilizing CSS rules is crucial for creating an inviting image that entices visitors. CSS supports various image formats like JPEG, SVG, ICO, and CSS gradients, enabling versatile image transformations through properties and functions like element(), Image(), cross-fade(), and image-set().

What Makes a Good Hero Image?

Crafting a captivating hero image involves several key components. It should ideally originate from a local context, striking the right balance in size and placement while maintaining harmony with your overall design.

Consistency in style, color, and messaging ensures a seamless user experience, making a good hero image an indispensable element of your website.

The Right Size and Placement

Achieving the ideal hero image size and placement is a balancing act. Oversized files can slow page loading, deterring visitors, while undersized ones pixelate on larger screens. Image compression is the solution, preserving quality while reducing file size.

Experimenting with JPG and PNG formats helps gauge their impact on site performance. Platforms like Webflow Designer automate image compression and optimization for diverse screen sizes, simplifying this vital task.

Logical Organization

Effective design hinges on impeccable organization. Your hero image content must follow a logical hierarchy and flow, ensuring each element builds upon the preceding one. This is especially crucial when combining images with copy.

When information is paired with a relevant image, people can recall 65% of it, even after a few days, compared to just 10% from information alone. A clear, well-connected message is essential. Consider creating a basic wireframe to outline how your hero image will be structured on the page.

Balance and Harmony

Poorly integrated hero images can swiftly distract and deter visitors. Your hero image must seamlessly blend with your overall layout, maintaining coherence in fonts, sizes, colors, navigation, visuals, and copy.

Reference your brand identity and guidelines when conceptualizing your hero image to ensure alignment and maintain viewer interest. Opt for images that echo the site’s color palette and match color accents with the overall scheme for a visually pleasing, unified appearance.

Original Graphics

While stock photos have their place in content marketing, hero images often benefit from originality. Original graphics contribute significantly to marketing goals, with 40% of content marketers reporting success compared to just 13% for stock photos.

Moreover, the avoidance of stereotypes is crucial when featuring people in hero images. Take proactive measures to prevent racial, gender, and other stereotypes by carefully selecting images or choosing providers known for inclusivity and diversity.

This approach reinforces your brand’s broad appeal and commitment to diversity and inclusivity.

Consistency and Continuity

The importance of web design cannot be overstated; it’s the difference between a modern, trustworthy website and one that seems stuck in the dotcom era, evoking apprehension about clicking anything. A captivating hero image, conversely, invites exploration and instills confidence.

As the initial point of contact with your brand, hero images wield substantial influence over brand perception, website traffic, and conversions. Armed with this insight, it’s time to apply your newfound knowledge and craft a hero image that captivates visitors from the first glance.

That said, WordPress themes for your business can help. These collections of files dictate your website’s appearance and functionality, overseeing design, layout, and style.

With a plethora of customizable WordPress themes at your disposal, you can effortlessly modify your site’s visual content while retaining its core content and functionality.

What to Avoid When Using Hero Images

While hero images can elevate your website, it’s crucial to use them thoughtfully. Consider these recommendations to make the most of your hero images:

  • Using Very Large Images: Oversized images can significantly slow down your website’s loading speed, discouraging visitors. Strike a balance between image quality and file size through compression.
  • Adding an Image for the Sake of It: Avoid incorporating hero images solely for aesthetics. Ensure they have a purpose, conveying a message or enhancing user experience, to prevent visual clutter and distraction.
  • Neglecting Graphic Design Principles: Ignoring fundamental graphic design principles can lead to a disjointed or unappealing hero image. Pay attention to aspects like alignment, contrast, and color harmony to create a visually pleasing and effective hero image.

Final Word: What is a Hero Image?

A hero image can make or break your website’s first impression. Its impact on brand perception, user engagement, and conversions is undeniable. So, as you embark on building a website, remember the power of a great hero image.

Find the right balance in size, prioritize originality, maintain visual continuity, and avoid common pitfalls. For more insights on website building, learn how to build a website from scratch and how to use a website template.

Next Steps: What Now?

Learn More About Website Building

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a hero image banner?

A hero image banner is an oversized, attention-grabbing image prominently displayed at the top of a webpage. It serves as the focal point, often featuring captivating visuals, essential messaging, and a call to action. A well-designed hero image banner enhances a website’s aesthetic and user engagement.

Why is it called a hero image?

It’s called a hero image because it plays a heroic role on a webpage. Positioned prominently, it’s the first element visitors see, acting as a visual champion that captures attention and sets the tone for the website. Hero images are considered the “hero” of web design due to their pivotal impact on user engagement and overall aesthetics.

How do you make a great hero image?

Ensuring a great hero image involves considering several factors. Proper sizing is crucial; aim for a minimum of 1,200 pixels with a 16:9 aspect ratio. Banner hero images should be 1600 x 500 pixels, extendable to 1,800 pixels for larger screens. Additionally, align your image with your brand identity and ensure its relevance to the webpage’s content.

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