Choosing an Awesome Header Image for Your WordPress Theme

18th May. Posted in Guides.

One of the most common web design trends that has been around for years and still going strong today is the header / hero area image. You’ll see this trend all the time. Homepages especially usually have a large header area with a background image which will often have the main heading and intro prominently displayed.

Although this trend is very common now and many sites are starting to feel similar as a result, it is still very effective because the image can look attractive whilst showing the user what the website is about and the main title and introduction text can deliver a clear message that will help engage users when they see the page. Often times, WordPress theme designers and web designers will find a way of incorporating this trend whilst adding other subtle features to make the design feel different.

Lets take a look at some great examples of this trend first:




As you can see, all these examples make use of similar elements yet they all look very attractive and do a great job of showing the visitor exactly what is on offer.

Each design has great typography and color choices but the other key element is the background image choice. This is the part that many users get wrong when they buy a WordPress theme.

It’s easy to look at a theme demo and be amazed by how great it looks but remember – the designer will have spent hours getting the right images in place and these images wont be provided with the theme 99% of the time. This is because good designers know that amazing images are worth paying for. In some cases the designer will get permission from other great designers to use their images. Either way, the images they use wont be the licenced to allow them to be redistributed.

This means that when you get your theme and import the demo content you’ll get a bunch of placeholder images where the stunning images you saw before were. All of a sudden the theme looks very different but don’t worry, it’s still the great theme you loved when you saw the demo but you’ll need to do some work to get your own images in place.

This may seem like a real disappointment at first but it’s actually a good thing. If theme authors only used copyright free, redistribute images in their themes you’d see a lot of the same images being used over and over again. Many users would just re-use the images provided with the theme. The whole point of buying a premium theme is go get yourself a professional website so you certainly wouldn’t want the same images as everyone else.

Invest some time in finding high quality images that fit your specific needs and your website will be much better as a result.

Finding Amazing Images

Hopefully I’ve convinced you why you should spend some time getting your hands on some awesome images for your theme, but where do you look? Well, there are tons of options these days…

Firstly, you could use sites like unsplash.com, picjumbo.com and gratisography.com. They have loads of great images which you can use completely free. Unfortunately, you will see quite a few of these images used all over the place and it’s often easy to recognise where the image is from. This is not necessarily a bad thing but it’s worth being aware of. I tend to use these kind of images for blog featured images where suitable and use premium images for things like header / hero images and other key parts of the website.

Unsplash – an amazing resource for completely free images

Premium Options

If you want images to really make your website stand out and make it look as good as possible then you’ll need to know about the best places to pay for images. There are loads of options out there but there are only 2 places you need to know about as they will cover pretty much any image requirement you could possible have. They are shutterstock.com and creativemarket.com.

Let’s take a look at each of them.

Shutterstock is a comprehensive archive of all kinds of premium images, illustrations and video footage. It has all kinds images and you’ll be guaranteed to find the perfect image to make your header stand out.

You’ll need to create an account here and choose a pricing structure. I use the on demand plan which currently allows 5 images for £29. This may seem expensive but I think its well worth it. You’ve already paid for a premium WordPress theme and skimping on images now would be a shame. You want your website to look as good as possible after all.

The other option I use for premium images is Creative Market. This fantastic marketplace has tons of assets created by designers from all over the world. You’ll find photography, website templates, business cards, brochures, mockups, logos and more.

The images you’ll find here are cheaper than Shutterstock but there is nowhere near as much choice as the quality varies more.

One of my favourite resources on creative market is the selection of ‘scene generators’. These are PSD templates that you can buy to create fantastic and unique header images. The prices of these varies and you’ll need a copy of Adobe Photoshop to make use of them but they are well worth checking out if you are able to use them.

Just a few of the awesome scene generators on Creative Market

So there you have it. There are plenty of options there to help get you started when it comes to choosing quality images for your headers / hero areas. Don’t allow poor quality images to be the reason your website sucks!

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