The Importance of a (Good) Profile Photograph for your Practice Website

We encourage clients to include a well-taken profile photograph on their web pages, Linkedin profiles and directories that have this facility. This enables the visitor to establish a rapport with you in a visual way and personalises your message.

Very often we encounter reluctance by professionals to provide a photograph. Mostly this could be attributed to that most endearing trait of understatement we have in Britain: self promotion is often perceived as brash and should be avoided.

On the other hand we also receive photographs taken in bad light, with web cams, with mobile phones etc. Whilst some are usable the majority are not and instead of complimenting and enhancing a profile, they can have the opposite effect! We came across this very interesting article via the British Psychological Society which provides compelling evidence about just how important a good profile picture is...

Profile photos and judging personality

"Individuals are likely to form impressions of others simply by the photographs they present of themselves, new research has suggested. Investigators from Ohio State University found that people often require just a profile image - and no words - on social networking sites such as Facebook in order to make judgements on those in question. It was demonstrated that college students in the US who saw a person having fun with friends in the snapshot would be more likely to believe someone to be extroverted, regardless of whether or not their description showed them to be a people-person."

"Brandon Van Der Heide, an Assistant Professor of Communication at the Learning Institute - which was established in 1870 - noted photos have now become the primary way in which people form impressions of other users on such portals. However, when a shot portrays a person in an unusual manner, this could lead to individuals turning to text in a bid to glean more information, Mr Van Der Heide pointed out, adding: "If the photo is odd or negative in any way, people want to find out more before forming an impression."

"Dr Abigael San, Chartered Clinical Psychologist, commented: "A picture says a thousand words. Our tendency as human beings to express meaning through pictures has long predated the development of written language. "Our minds are able to process images much more quickly than understanding text. The findings of the research conducted in Ohio are consistent with the phenomenon that significantly more information is understood through non-verbal communication in an interaction, as compared to what is said."

"In many ways, actions speak louder than words. Whilst unusual profile pictures required further consideration before an opinion was formed, the fact that a confident and more attractive picture can elicit a quick positive response without the need for further scrutiny, demonstrates that traditional advice about the importance of first impressions is still very much relevant in the digital world. It would seem that whatever the century, the same social rules still apply."

With thanks to the BPS, Profile Photos and Judging Personality - 21/3/2012 ( Why not pop into your local photography studio, bring a blank disk or USB memory stick and ask them to take 5 or 6 pictures for your website. You would be surprised how little this will cost and how much of a positive impact this will have!