When it comes to selecting visual content for your healthcare organization’s website, the options may seem slim at best and overused at worst. Here’s how to dig a little deeper and find imagery that’ll elevate the look and feel of your site.
By Katie Bridges
We’ve all seen her, the septuagenarian with close-cropped white hair and a toothy smile. She’s clad in a seafoam hospital gown awaiting her mammogram, maybe, or pulling up the sleeve of her sweater to receive a vaccine. More often than not, she’s dressed in athleisure, doing yoga poses in her living room or out for a jog with her equally toothy-smiled husband.
Essentially, she’s the “senior woman” of Getty Images, and she’s likely on a billboard (or blog post or mailer or magazine cover) near you.
There’s a reason “senior woman” is everywhere. The photos she appears in are pretty good, as far as healthcare stock imagery goes: They boast good lighting and composition, feel authentic and are imbued with a certain hopefulness — you, too, could be doing yoga in your living room! But taken together, the photos reveal a truth: that finding good medical stock can seem like slim pickings.
That’s why, with the healthcare content we create, we go in with an image strategy — a strategy we’d like to share with you. Here are our five tenets for choosing successful visual content for your healthcare organization’s website.
1. Create (and Follow!) a Mood Board
While that “senior woman” image might be a good fit for a blog post, you’ll need to consider other options to keep your site from feeling one-note. By creating a mood board that features a variety of image types — stock with people, stock that’s more conceptual, illustrations, medical renderings, etc. — in a common palette, you’ll have a visual representation of your goal aesthetic. It’ll also allow you to set parameters: Do you want a crisp, dynamic feel to reflect cutting-edge research, or photos that are warmer and softer to suggest care and comfort?
2. Avoid the Dreaded “Pain Pose”
Type “pelvic pain” or “migraine” into a stock imagery search field, and the results will be flooded with images of people grimacing in exaggerated pantomimes of pain. Here’s the deal: Nothing seems less authentic. Dig a little deeper and look for imagery that’s more subtle — an image that’s cropped more closely to feel a bit more editorial or focus on the treatment rather than the symptom.
3. Consider Conceptual, Editorial Illustrations
There’s certainly a place for medical illustrations, such as a rendering of an organ or a depiction of cancer cells, especially when you’re speaking to a physician audience. But think beyond the straightforward medical illustrations and work a few conceptual illustrations into the mix. Use these as an opportunity to tackle big-idea pieces — the rise of telehealth or informatics, say, or even as a way to avoid overused generic stock options for something like cancer treatment or pharmacy.
4. Ensure that You’re Representing the Staff and the Procedure as Accurately as Possible
For medical content geared toward physicians, researchers or those funding advancements, it’s essential that the art director choosing the images is immersed in the nuts and bolts of the content and isn’t just working off a headline or an abstract. If the art director works closely with the writing team and medical editors, they’ll be able to identify search terms and definers that will lead to the most accurate imagery.
5. Choose Images that Are Diverse and Inclusive
When a potential patient (or donor, or physician recruit) visits your site, they need to see themselves and their families reflected. Be mindful of who your audiences are — all of them — and ensure that they are represented in the imagery on the site in terms of age, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, economic status and other diverse backgrounds.