Designing for E-Commerce: Photography & Videography

One of the main projects I have been working on over this past year has been design for an e-commerce store. This post is the first in a series about designing for an e-commerce experience.

Photography is a powerful element on any website, and is especially important on an e-commerce site because it may be the first time, or the only time someone is viewing a particular product. Aside from communicating tangible things such color, scale and context, photography can also communicate the intangibles- benefits, ideas, concepts and even the overall sophistication of a brand. Photography also helps to build a customer’s trust in the product.

While photography choices for e-commerce should depend on the product being sold, there are a few bases most product photography should cover. It is interesting to note which retail experiences have been brought into e-commerce, such as demo videos or virtual dressing rooms.
Product photography should communicate scale, including how it might look against the body or against a familiar object, such as a coin.


If possible, display the product benefit. For example, an image on the iPhone can display the notification center feature on the phone.


Some products are easier to understand if multiple views are available.


Video can be a powerful indicator and a useful tool to aid a customer in making a decision. For example, a video on an e-commerce clothing site can show how the clothing moves when someone is walking in it.


A demo is a great example of how a retail experience can be brought online into e-commerce. For some products, it is helpful to be able to “test drive” some of the features and benefits.

best buy

In addition to the decisions on the type of photography and videography to include, it is also a good idea to think about how the customer will experience the photography on the e-commerce site. For example, when many products are available on a category page, offering a preview of the image by mouseover on the category page is a nice UX experience because the user can shop without leaving the page.

home depot

Overall, the decisions on whether to use large scale images with a 360 view or video to show product benefits in more detail depends on the product itself. A video of how furniture looks in a living room would be less valuable than a video that shows how a clothing item may fit. The style of the photography should also match the product category.

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