The Art Of Using Stock Photography In Website Design
The subject of using stock photography on a website is one that many of our clients often have strong feelings about (usually against) when discussing a new project. It’s not hard to look around the web and see example after example of bad stock photography ruining an otherwise decent website, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Just like the rest of the website design process, there is an art to using stock photography, and when done correctly it will enhance the overall aesthetic, rather than detract from it.
Why Use Stock Photography?
For many clients, stock photography offers the opportunity to create a professional looking site at a fraction of the cost of hiring a photographer. While there are certainly cases where custom photography is needed, rarely does an entire website need to be created using only custom images.
The other big benefit to using stock photography is that it can quickly and easily be replaced with different image sets across an entire website for a very small cost compared to using custom photos from a photographer.
How To Choose Stock Photos
There is no “right” way to choose stock photos for a website. Unlike the technical side of website design, selecting images is very much an art unto itself and is unique for every project.
Knowing the type of clients a business wants to attract, and how they want to brand themselves in the public eye, factors heavily in image selection. Other factors to consider include:
- Is the target audience other businesses, or consumers?
- What is the subject matter of the page the image appears on?
- Does the image reflect the client’s location, and does that matter?
- Does the image reflect the client’s brand?
- Is the concept or idea clearly communicated?
Answering each of those questions goes a long way in helping narrow down which images are good candidates for a project, and which are not.
Using Smartphone Photos
This is always a delicate subject with new clients, but it comes up often enough that it should probably be addressed: smartphone photos, with very rare exception, should never be used on a business website.
Smartphone photos are perfect for a company’s social media channels. They’re a great way to quickly share fun, candid moments that visitors can engage with and get a feel for the company’s personality.
Other web developers may strongly disagree with those opinions, and that’s perfectly fine.
Working With A Professional
Working with a website design professional should be a collaborative process, and a web designer should be considerate when using stock photography to represent a client’s brand.
No client should be afraid to tell their designer that they don’t like an image or that they prefer one over another. The whole point of using stock photography is that the images are easily replaceable and reasonably inexpensive to do so.
From a website design perspective, the more information a client can provide about who they are, their brand, and who their target audience is, the easier it is to choose great images that visitors will engage with. It’s absolutely true that a picture is worth a thousand words, so choosing the right images is something that should be given careful consideration every time.
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