Almost all marketing experts have endorsed the importance of stock photos in web design. Consumers are usually on the go and don’t have time to read long passages. Visuals are a great way to impact their minds and compel them to convert.
Humans are visual learners and can retain information longer when presented as images or videos. Studies reveal that people can remember 65% of textual information paired with illustrations. But it is also true that most organizations have low budgets to fuel their campaigns. This leaves no option but to opt for affordable options like stock photography.
What Are Stock Photos?
Stock photos are images shot and collected without any specific project in mind. They save the hassle of finding a photographer or spending time creating customized images. These photos are readily available for licensing instead of outright ownership.
Stock libraries include pictures in different categories, like nature, business, landscape, culture, and more. This variety makes finding the right pictures for their needs simple and easy. But there are some rules when using stock photos for your website. If you are wondering how to ensure a meaningful infusion of stock images on your website, you should keep reading this article.
Below, we have rounded up some dos and don’ts of using stock photos on a website. Have a look!
Do: Ensure Relevancy
Stock photo websites host numerous pictures in their database. But instead of filtering through them, many web designers and marketers pick the first ones that appear in search results. This isn’t the right approach. Take some time to scan through the photos and choose unique but suitable images.
For example, if you are connected with a yoga studio that emphasizes clean eating and mindful activities. Instead of choosing generic photos of a person doing yoga poses on a beach or a room, try to look for stock photographs that highlight your offerings. This can be anything from pictures of people doing yoga in a tranquil setting or in the midst of multiple candles. You can also use pictures of the person eating a protein-rich meal after the yoga session.
Don’t: Forget to Evaluate Licenses
Every stock photo comes with a license that governs its use. This includes the following:
- Royalty-Free License: The license allows using pictures as many times as required after paying a one-time fee.
- Rights Managed: The license terms are modified per your specific use, audience, geographical location, and distribution volume. If you want to use the same picture for a different project, you must purchase the license again.
- Extended: With an extended license, you can utilize the stock photo in products you plan to resell. For example, mugs, t-shirts, calendars, etc.
Remember, the terms for using stock photos can vary on different websites. Hence, always check the rules to determine what you can and can’t do.
Do: Customize the Images
You don’t have to keep stock photos exactly as they are when you use them. Usually, you can change them to fit your brand’s style. But remember, the rules are not the same for every website. You must read the instructions before changing the pictures, or the stock photo agencies can file a lawsuit for using their resources incorrectly. Here are some ways you can change stock photos:
- Cut the picture in different ways.
- Put a layer on it in your brand’s color.
- Add words to show your brand’s message.
- Mix in custom pictures to make them special.
On the other hand, there are some types of edits that you shouldn’t make to your stock photos, such as:
- Add them to political ads.
- Use them for pornography.
- Change images that are claimed to be “editorial.”
- Claim it as your own creation.
Don’t: Neglect File Size
Page loading speed is an essential factor for a website. A slow loading speed – even a one-second delay can decrease conversions by 4.42% for each second. Besides other elements, the size of your image files also impacts the load speed of a page. And this can significantly affect your site’s credibility, traffic, and revenue.
Here are some tips to avoid this issue:
- Compress the pictures using tools like TinyPNG and ImageOptim.
- Resize the pictures. Most stock photo websites allow modification of the size before you download. However, if that option is unavailable, use image editing software to resize the pictures manually.
- Crop the unnecessary areas of the picture.
- Change the image format. For example, JPEG employs smaller file sizes, while PNG has better quality but heavier weight.
Do: Check Your Competitors
According to Photutorial, the global stock photography market is estimated at $4 billion in 2023. It also claims that the market size will double in a decade. With such significant growth, there will inevitably be duplications in the selection of images by different businesses.
If you use the same pictures as your competition, people might get mixed up and think your brand is the same as theirs. This is not good if you want your brand to be special and different.
Thus, designers should check their competitors’ pictures to ensure they don’t pick the same ones. Knowing what images competitors use can also help designers align their visual message with the industry or niche standards.
Don’t: Overlook SEO
Get your pictures ready for search engines to make it easier for internet users to discover your website.
Here’s how: When you buy and save stock pictures, they usually have file names that make sense to the company or the photographer. Change those names to something that works better for SEO. For example, if you have a picture of a guy playing chess, edit the name to “man-playing-with-chess.JPG.”
You can also enhance the SEO factor of your website by integrating keywords and phrases into the Alt tags. The Alt tags or the alt attributes are displayed when an image does not appear on the screen due to internet issues. They also assist visually impaired users who use screen readers to browse the internet.
In summary, using stock photos on websites can be a valuable resource for designers, but it has its own rules. Photos are a crucial part of a website, and stock images offer a convenient option for readily available visuals. Also, remember that stock photos are primarily created for commercial purposes, and finding the right images to convey your unique message can be challenging.
Applying the do’s and don’ts above and conducting thorough searches can help you to find images that align perfectly with your business. Stock photos are versatile and can be used in various areas of your website, but it’s crucial to adhere to best practices to ensure they add the value you desire.