After browsing the web for a while, images start to look familiar. There are people in business suits sitting at large tables, kids wearing superhero costumes, and people who look entirely too happy about eating a salad.
With literally tens of thousands of stock photos available, why do people consistently choose the same ones? Perhaps it has to do with the price of high quality stock photos coupled with the extreme availability of free, low quality stock photos. Why pay $50 for one image when you can download as many as you want for free?
By the time your visitors hit your site, they’ve seen more boring stock photos than they care to admit. Here’s how you can keep your website from becoming another one of “those” websites:
- Understand the main purpose of stock photography websites
There is a big market for stock images, and it’s not just for consumers with websites. The market exists mainly to serve photographers.
Photographers of all skill levels can submit their images to free and paid sites to generate exposure, ad revenue, and royalties. Stock photos are marketed like any other product, convincing you to buy. They’re largely promoted as a way to make your website look stunning, and who doesn’t want that?
The Content Marketing Institute points out the importance of using original images specifically crafted to represent your brand. Using images of the people who actually work in your office is far better than using stock photos. Stock photos make your business feel impersonal.
Don’t be pushed into buying stock photos
Bloggers write moneymaking guides that encourage people with little to no experience to turn photography into passive income. They say designers are always hard-pressed to find high-quality images for their web clients.
The truth is somewhere in the middle. Designers do frequently search for stock photos, but it’s often out of habit rather than a real necessity. Today’s popular website templates are built with blank spots for stock photos, and the average person – including designers – will just fill in those spots. Many people don’t consider their marketing strategy before selecting and placing stock images on their website, but they should.
- Plan your images according to your content
It’s tempting to visit stock photo sites and download all the cool images that relate to your niche. That just forces you to find ways to use them, whether using them supports your website or not.
The solution is to plan your images along with your content. Just like you’d plan the copy you want to publish on a page, your images should be planned as well. Planning image placement ensures that every element on every page of your website serves a purpose.
Clipart is usually something to avoid at all costs because it’s usually unattractive and extremely general. However, this North Carolina law firm got it right on their page about workers compensation. Each image is specifically related to the surrounding content. For example, rather than post a picture of a ladder and a construction worker, they’ve got an image of a worker unmistakably falling off a ladder.
Develop your content first
For the most part, website images are intended to supplement your content. Unless the image is the main attraction, your visitors will glance at your images and then continue reading.
By developing your content first, you can figure out what type of image will support that content.
- Use the right proportions
The size of your images should be directly proportionate to the amount of attention you want them to receive. If the image is the main dish – like a graphics portfolio – then it’s acceptable to display larger images. If the image is supplemental to your content, like the featured image on a blog post, scale back your image size.
A picture is worth fifty bucks
Images have the potential to tell a good story. The key is understanding that less is more, and authentic images have a great advantage over stock photos. If you’re unable to produce your own original images, skip the free sites and commit to quality. If you’ve planned your content, you won’t have any problem investing in a few professional stock photos.