Your institutional profile includes a critically important area - what the page’s administrative area calls the “hero” image. When we created the first designs for these pages we also labeled this area the “Beautiful Image,” which gives you one sense of the work it should be doing on your profile. This image sits at the very top of your institutional profile and will often be the first glimpse a potential applicant or colleague has of your school. Given that site visitors often skim the pages they visit, visual cues are direct and powerful tools for telling your institution’s story. This means you want to choose an image that is arresting, evocative, and representative. The right image can help attract the right applicant, while the wrong one can drive that same applicant away.
What is your institution’s story?
Your hero image is not a decoration for your page, it’s a storytelling tool. As such, you should choose this image with your institution's story in mind. Put on your marketer’s hat: What sort of institution are you? What is your school’s underlying brand? Does your school have core messaging points that run throughout its other materials such as brochures and websites? Are there unique, iconic, or differentiating aspects to your institution that you want to tout?
Keep in mind that institutions of higher learning tend to have certain things in common: students, for example. Classrooms. Tree-lined paths. Libraries. Give any potential image a ruthless second look and ask yourself: Could I find this image on a stock photography site under “college?” If your image includes people, what are they doing? Does that action seem inorganic or staged? Is that action reinforcing the central story you want to tell or is it distracting from it?
While your image can be aspirational, it should also be honest. An institution located in the middle of a bustling city setting may not want to be represented by an image of its lone set of rolling hills. Or maybe it does, if its selling point is that it is an oasis of calm at the heart of a great metropolis. Either way, let your institution’s underlying story be your guide.
Consider your audience
Another question to ask yourself is: who am I trying to reach with this image? PRISM is a tool for expanding the pool of diverse staff at America’s institutions of higher learning, but are you looking for faculty? For research scientists? For executive-level administrators? What are the resources, perks and institutional qualities that will attract the type and quality of applicants you want?
Once you have an image or set of images picked out, it’s time to make some final decisions:
- The hero area is rectangular. (Think of a widescreen film still.) Will your image work within a space that is significantly wider than it is taller? Although your image will be resized by the page for different device types, a general rule it should not be bigger than 1MB and be roughly at least 1900 px x 500 px.
- Does your image have an identifiable area of focus? The administrative area will allow you to select a point of focus for your image by clicking on it after you upload it. The page will automatically resize around this point of focus on different devices, for example on a phone versus on a laptop. Make sure to select an image that will still read legibly if you zoom in on it.
- Do you have the rights to this image? The question of rights is twofold: Do you own it? And: Do I have the permission of the people depicted in the image to use their likenesses? An image of a public space such as a crowded quad will likely not require a model release, but a close-up of a student or staffer hard at work in a laboratory likely will. If you have any questions about whether you can use an image, you should consult with your institution's public affairs or communications department.