Engage your community with images

Published on 07 May 2019

Everyone that manages a city website has the same goal: drive engagement with the community through meaningful digital interactions.

Eye-catching images are an effective way to communicate the topic of your content, and help your audience find exactly what they need.

They also help your content stand out when being promoted in places other than your website; whether it’s being shared on social media, in community newsletters, as printed materials, or anywhere else.

And best of all, images do much more than simply making your content more attractive.

Research shows that when you hear a piece of information, three days later you’ll remember only 10% of it. But, if a relevant picture is added then your recall soars to 65%.


Pairing your content with the perfect image can drive community engagement. So now that you know why images are so important, let’s look at how to get started.


Tips for handling your images

Here are a few things you need to consider when managing images on your city website:

  • Don’t include too much text in your images. It’s hard for some people to read. Large chunks of text belong in the body content of your page, not the images.
  • Use alternative text to describe your images for people with vision impairments.
  • If you have text or important information in your image, use high-contrast colors to make the information stand out.
  • Before you upload any images, make sure you have permission to use them.
  • Create a library of images so that your content authors will always have a reliable set of images to choose from.

Following these simple tips will go a long way toward making your content accessible and memorable.


Making your images shine

Whether you have taken the photos yourself, pulled them from your asset library, or inherited them from your visual designers, the chances are your images are vastly different shapes and sizes. This can sometimes cause problems when it comes to displaying them on your website.

From a user experience point of view, the rule of thumb is that everything should line up nicely. Presenting content in the same way helps viewers relate the content together and improves scannability.


To make life easier for everybody, we recently introduced image focal point detection to OpenCities.

Whatever shape or size your images are, the system identifies any faces in the photos and scans the landscape for the visual “sweet spot”. It then ensures that the most important part of the image isn’t cropped out when resized and presented as a thumbnail.


Where can you find decent images?

Using stock photos on your website usually means you get professional-grade images without having to spend time sourcing them yourself. If you want to find quality stock images, you can check out services like ShutterstockGetty Images, and Foter.

Alternatively, the ideal source of images could be right under your nose.

Your community is a commonly under-utilized resource. Tapping into your community helps keep them engaged and helps you build up a library of reusable images.

Other benefits to this approach include:

  • They’re unique: The images probably aren’t being used in other places online.
  • They’re authentic: They represent your area better than generic stock photos.
  • They’re cheap: Photos that you’ve sourced yourself will probably be cheaper than using stock photo libraries; or even completely free.

You could run a photo competition and use a simple online form to get people to upload their own photos — just make sure that you get their permission to use their images on your website.

Helping cities create content that looks beautiful and builds stronger connections with your community is what OpenCities does best.


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