Do’s and Don’ts of Stock Photos in Web Design

Do’s and Don’ts of Stock Photos in Web Design

Dos and Don’ts of Stock Photos in Web Design

Web Design - Illustration

Marketers and designers globally agree that visuals are an essential part of web design. Without them, the web would be a dull and complicated place. The pictures we use are appealing and help communicate information more clearly. They also make life easier for our website visitors and create a positive experience during their visit. 

But despite knowing the importance, web designers struggle with the unanimous challenge of creating customised pictures for each project. Luckily, stock photographs come to the rescue and provide them with a way to add photos to the web design without actually producing the pictures.

What Are Stock Photos?

Stock photographs are an existing – already created – library of photos. They are usually available for free. But if you are looking for pictures that are not common, you can get them from reputable stock photo sites for affordable prices

Photographers from all over the world create them without any particular project in mind. They are also available in almost every niche imaginable. Stock pictures are given a license, usually for a small fee, to individuals and organizations who can use them in both – personal and commercial projects. 

In short, stock pictures are the life savior for many web designers. And when used correctly, they can greatly enhance your content.

In the guide below, let’s look at some do’s and don’ts of using stock photographs to help you make stock photos feel custom and unique. 

Do: Go For Relevancy

Website Design being relevant

One of the primary mistakes designers make is opting for stock pictures randomly. However, remember that visuals should be used as a marketing tool and not as a filler. Using authentic photos and videos helps build authenticity and credibility into your website.

Using a picture that does not resonate with your text may give your webpage more views, but you will lose the chance to illustrate your message. Plus, users usually ignore the purely decorative images and get more confused with the point you are trying to make. 

To find the relevant pictures, use the available filters on the stock photo website and search comprehensively. Thanks to these filters, you can search via topic and subcategories to find the perfect picture for your webpage.

Don’t: Go For Overused Pictures

Despite boasting a sheer volume of choices, some stock pictures get used repeatedly across the internet. And using the same picture on your page as other websites will make your content seem less original – even if the text part is unique. 

Especially if the stock photo depicts something common in your industry, your competitors may have already made a similar choice of picture.

To avoid this issue, I recommend performing a Google Images’ search by image’ search before uploading the picture on your page. Simply drag the photo file into the search bar, and Google will show you each website where the same picture exists on the World Wide Web.

You can also use the tool called TinEye to determine if the picture you choose is being used elsewhere on the internet. 

Do: Verify License

When you are buying stock photographs, it is essential to read the licensing terms to ensure you are complying fully with the legal conditions. The licenses will also specify whether you can edit the pictures, use them on commercial marketing platforms, and utilize them in ‘resale’ products. 

Generally, you will come across three main types of licenses on stock photo sites:

  • Royalty-Free: This type of license enables you to use the picture as many times as you want after paying a one-time flat fee.
  • Rights Managed: The rights managed is a copyright license that allows the buyer to use the pictures within a specified set of terms.
  • Extended: With this license, you can use the pictures in products that will be ‘resold’ such as t-shirts, mugs, calendars, etc. 

Do note that stock photo agencies modify the license as per their preference. This is why you must read the license details carefully and adhere to any conditions specified. 

Don’t: Forget SEO

According to the SEO guidelines, image optimisation is necessary for improving the page load speed and the user’s experience. Following the correct practices will also help provide the proper context to the search engine algorithms and rank your page higher in the search engine result pages. 

Here are some tips to help you with SEO on your stock photos:

  • Rename the picture files to descriptive terms. 
  • Use keywords. 
  • Add Alt Text to assist visually impaired readers. 
  • Resize images, so they load quickly. 
  • Compress pictures to a lighter weight. 
  • Ensure they load seamlessly on both – mobile and desktop. 
  • Use high-quality photos only. 
  • Add images to the sitemap. 

Do: Put Your Spin On It

One of the best things about stock photos is that most licenses allow editing of the pictures. This means you can crop, change the background, add overlays and texts, and even integrate custom pictures to the existing layout. Doing this will help the images adapt better to your branding strategy and appear more unique. 

Don’t: Ignore Details

Pay attention to small details in the stock photo you choose. For example, using a picture of a smartphone released in 2013 will make your website look outdated. Even people wearing old-fashioned clothes or boasting a style from the past can give the old picture away. 

Another feature to look for in stock pictures is the emotions portrayed by the models. Skip the photos where people have facial expressions that look fake or appear as a dummy. The viewers will recognize fakeness immediately and find the picture meaningless. 

Instead, search for pictures that look like the camera person has captured a real person. Look for candid photos and natural expressions to portray genuine emotions. 

Make the Perfect Picture With These Tips

Stock photographs are a beneficial way to add graphics to your web design without spending too many resources. And you can further customise them by utilising the tips outlined above. As long as you choose and use stock pictures correctly, they can serve as a real asset to your web design. Good luck!

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1 Comment

  1. Ivy Attie on October 13, 2021 at 5:23 pm

    Fantastic article with useful info. I like the insights regarding the usage of stock images on websites. Some Stock Photos can be over-used at times so it’s important to try and pick out unique ones.

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