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How to Use Photos as a Visual Metaphor in E-Commerce Website

Category: Influence

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Why: We want to show you two ways of using a photo as a visual metaphor so that your message engages customers’ attention.

Did you know that a visual metaphor can help you intensify the emotion of your message?

In a flash, here is how you do it!

In Short

Similar to finding the best fit icon. On top of a direct link between a symbol and a message. With the cultural context of idioms, a visual will help intensify an emotion in your message.

You want to choose the right photos that represent your ideas because doing it wrong can instead nullify the empathy bridge you’re trying to build. Even worse, your message could be interpreted in a completely different direction.

1. Two main ways of using

The common mistake is not knowing the purpose of a visual. We often see where an image in an E-commerce site contains more than 1 message. Ex. Text about a burger + Sauce visual at a focal point.

To avoid confusing our customers, we decide the purpose of a visual and use it accordingly.

  1. Context = Use a visual with negative space as a background
  2. Main message = Use a visual with an object as a focal point
accomplishment action adult adventurefemale reaching out hand with ball of red yarn
(Left) Add context, (Right) Focus on an object

2. Include People and Culture Context

This is where we have fun and be creative. Your task is to

  1. Pick a well-known idiom/figurative speaking in audiences’ cultural context.
  2. Emphasize on it the emotion.
face mask on black image with text your life matters
Mask matters to your life.

3. Try Out Different Angles

To deliver the message, you should, of course, play with the classic rule of thirds and other favorite compositions. Again, make sure you emphasize the emotion of the message.

Emphasize the weight difference.


By using a visual metaphor, we invite customers to think about the subject we present. The emotional connection is impactful and worth a try.

Let’s go out there and create an emotional selling E-commerce website!