Stock Photos vs. Originals Images

Stock photos stand out. Every brand wants to stand out – yet there isn’t always room in the budget for high-quality photographs on every webpage. Judging the effectiveness of an image is a good indicator for choosing photos to include on your site. Images should not be used indiscriminately on a site and should always complement the user’s experience. Ineffective or ill-placed photos can be distracting and off-putting to readers.

Impact of Images on Websites

Custom photography has the biggest impact on websites but isn’t always realistic for company budgets. Custom images will most likely not add value to technical, financial, or service based businesses. Users at these sites are visiting to find specific information and the addition of costly images will not add to their experience. In fact, increased load times may garner negative reactions.

Organizations with websites for artistic purposes should take the initiative to include original photography on their sites. For example, graphic design companies, hair salons, or industries that create their own products, will benefit greatly from using unique and original photography.

Original vs. Stock Photos

MDG Advertising claims 67% of people shopping online consider high quality images very important to their purchasing decision. Using original vs. stock photos is also likely to influence website users. For some organizations, options are limited. A business’s financial situation sometimes only allows for stock photos from free image websites. When budgeting decides stock photos are the only option, that is what your organization should stay with. There are multiple free or low-cost imaging sites available for companies to use.

When to Use Stock Photos

Accompanying Text

It is always advisable to use photos to support text on your website. If that text is technical and does not require artistically-specific photos, stock photos will work well. This will keep the cost of photo purchases down but also add to the content on your site. Stock photos can be a good option to use in these circumstances.

Offering an Interesting Background

You can easily set stock images as a background on your site, which will add to the theme of your content. This includes holidays, special coupons, or contrasting text colors to make your information stand out. Using a stock photo as a background will not be as obvious as using the photo as a standard-sized addition to your text.

Educational Material

Some images aid in describing scientific concepts like anatomy or biology. The option to replace stock images with custom ones may be unrealistic in this case as well. In these instances, stock photos work effectively on a site. This is also the case if your site contains a presentation or video. Stock images included on a formal presentation are well received by audiences.

When Not to Use Stock Photos

There are some circumstances where it is clearly not advisable to use stock photos

Logos. When creating a company logo, your organization will need to find a completely unique image. Stock images are simply not acceptable in this situation. The artwork can be formal, artistic, or off-the-wall. Just make sure it is original and will represent your company accordingly.

Promotional Material. When publishing books, long form instructional guides, or other widespread marketing materials, make sure the artwork is original. Consumers will judge marketing materials and books by their covers and will quickly decide whether their investment is worth it. Stock photos on these materials will cry “low effort” and turn consumers off.

Uncertainty of Photo Rights. Many large stock image companies offer free or low-cost photos with certain rights attached to the work. Some images are advised for use with personal or small-business products. Others are not permitted for use by large companies or in advertising material. In these circumstances, it is best to avoid the entire situation avoid potential lawsuits.

The General Feeling of Stock Photos

If your website or business is planning to use stock photos, make sure they are high quality and look original. Many stock photos look cheesy, fake, or have been used a million times on other websites. Before choosing a stock photo, think about the personality and mood of your business and find images that match.

Do not choose a photo simply to fill space on your website. It must complement the text provided on the site in order to be effective. If the photos pull attention away from the text on the page, the photos are not working to your advantage.

Determine the Mood of Your Site

To decide whether stock or original photos are best on your site, determine the mood of your website. Are you an original company that is trying to share an original product or artwork? Or will stock photos of certain items or scenes adequately convey the message of your organization?