There’s no denying that stock images are an extremely helpful resource for creating a fully-fledged website, since many businesses lack the time or the equipment to create images of their own. Images can play a huge role in convincing a customer that your product or service is the one to buy, it’s important to be using the right ones – as the old saying goes, “a picture speaks a thousand words”.
An enormous collection of stock images are at your fingertips with numerous image providers on the internet; unfortunately, a huge portion of the images available are either unsuitable for your needs, or just really bad!
So, when you’re looking for the right image to use for your website (or for print), here are some tips to take into consideration to make sure you don’t end up with the wrong stock image.
Use relevant images which support your message
One of the first things you should be asking yourself is “what am I trying to communicate?”. In many cases, people buy a stock image and use it simply as a decoration – this is pointless because an image should really be used to give viewers a brief insight into the web-page’s content.
If you were a plumber talking about the kind of work you do for example, you wouldn’t pick an image of a beach just because it had blue water or because it looks pretty. Rather, it would be much wiser to choose something more relevant to the subject matter – a person could be l
ooking at your site, see an image of a kitchen sink, and instantly they get the message that you can fix and install kitchen sinks. In this way the image would support your message and communicate relevant ideas to potential customers.
Make sure the image is up-to-date
As time goes on, fashion trends come and go and technology is constantly evolving. This means some images can go “out of fashion”; a photo of someone with a 90’s haircut using a brick-sized cell phone would obviousl
y look out of place in this day and age, so it would be a bad idea to use it on a site which is selling the latest smart phones.
Unless you’re purposely going for a retro or classic-styled theme, older stock images (especially those with people in them) are best left alone.
Avoid over-used stock images
Most stock image providers will have a “Most Downloaded” or “Most Popular” section which allows you to see which images have been bought most commonly – these are very handy, because it’s a good idea to avoid images which have been over-used by others already.
If you find that an image has been used too much, skip it and find another; a stock image should be used to represent your business in a unique way.
Use images with the right resolution for your needs
A wrongly sized image can spell disaster! If you use a very small image and scale it up on your website, it’ll appear blurry and pixelated. On the opposite end of the scale, images with very high resolutions have a huge file size (making them time-consuming to download) and also cost more to purchase.
To avoid these problems, decide what the image will be used for and determine the right resolution before buying it – a website will typically need medium-sized images, while a large/high-quality print publication would require something more high-resolution.
Don’t substitute real products or staff with stock images
One of the key factors for successful website-visitor interaction is to create a basis of trust. If someone trusts you, they’re more likely to do business with you, and this trust can actually be broken if you use stock images which are used totally in place of your actual products or staff on your website.
A good rule to follow is “if you can take a picture of it, don’t use a stock image”. It simply doesn’t make sense to use portrait images of models instead of your CEO for instance, nor would it be appropriate to choose stock images of muffins for a bakery when the actual product could be totally different.
Stock images are useful, but in some cases it’s worth it to use your own photos or graphics – when a person sees an actual face for the business or can get a good look at their genuine products, it’s much more reassuring.
Some popular royalty free stock image websites are: