Most website developers and marketers are not designers. But they do know that having a website full of quality visuals is essential. However, the trick is not finding stock photography – they are all over the internet. But using them in a way that brings out the best in your website. 

In fact, using the wrong image can land you in several problems, including:

  • Adding a picture that doesn’t fit your brand. 
  • Using a concept that is common on the internet. 
  • Getting into legal trouble. 
  • Spending money on a stock photograph that you will not use in the long term.

And surely you don’t want to focus on these problems and more. Primarily if you are concentrating on building your brand and growing your business.

Luckily, there are some ways you can fit stock photographs in your branding without compromising on the overall quality. In the guide below, let’s look at some do’s and don’ts to follow when using stock photography in web design.

Do: Go For Relevancy

Repositories of the best stock photo websites are filled with thousands and millions of photographs. They also have search options in place that let you filter out relevant photographs according to your target niche, size, color, and even orientation. 

However, when searching for photographs, don’t be tempted to choose the first one that comes in your search. The first few pictures may be attractive, but do they fit your branding style? Do they resonate with the overall layout of your site?

The stock images highlighted in the first pages of search results may be beautiful, but if they are not on-brand, you may end up confusing the viewers. It will also make your website appear less relevant and streamlined.

Don’t: Forget Licenses

Legal stuff is often overlooked on stock photography websites. However, failing to comply with them can get you in all sorts of legal trouble, including a penalty, fine, lawsuit, and even takedown notice from the DMCA. 

When selecting a photography website, make sure to double (even triple) check the agreements to ensure you are using them lawfully. The legal guidelines will state where you can use the pictures, for how long, and whether giving attribution is necessary. 

You will also need to know the types of edits you can make to the stock photographs you buy. Most stock photo websites do allow simple editing. Still, it is crucial to ensure you are modifying under legal terms and conditions.

Do: Customize Your Images

As we mentioned above, you can edit the pictures as long as you follow the legal guidelines. However, it is important to remember that you cannot name or resell the stock photographs as your own creation even after customizing. 

Here are some ways you can edit the stock photographs:

  1. Crop your image in a variety of ways.
  2. Add an overlay in your brand color.
  3. Add text to convey your brand message. 
  4. Integrate other pictures to make them unique. 

In short, play around with the pictures as much as possible. Just note that you cannot use the stock pictures in any pornographic material, political ads, defamatory posts, and represent diseases like AIDS.

Don’t: Choose Cliche

Unless there is a specific reason, it is best to avoid artificial-looking photographs in your web design. 

A group of men dancing in suits, headless men pointing at floating objects, and an extra cheerful customer representative sporting a headset are just some examples of pictures that are confirmed cliches in the stock industry. They are not only unattractive but also portray fakeness in their photographs. 

By all means, it is best to stay away from such photographs. Instead, filter around for pictures that are candid or do not appear over staged. It is also a good idea to avoid abstract figures as they are heavily overused and may hinder the originality of your work. 

Do: Check the Competitors

Stock photographs are popular, and there is a good chance that the picture you select is being used by many other sites.

So when you select the pictures for your website, run them through Google Reverse Image Search or the TinEye tool. These tools will help you identify if the picture you chose is also found on some other site, especially those in the same niche as yours. 

Don’t: Forget SEO

Prep your images for SEO so that they can help people find your website only. 

For starters, stock photos have names that resonate with the agency or photographer. After you purchase and download the images, rename them to something that is more SEO-friendly. For example, if you have a picture that shows a cat playing with a ball, rename it to ‘cat-with-ball.JPG.’

You can also add SEO juice to your website by integrating keywords and phrases to Alt Tags, captions, and image titles. 

Another element to look out for is the image size. Since heavy images can slow down the website, make sure you resize pictures as much as possible to lower down the weight. This will ensure your photographs load quickly and improve the user experience. 

Do: Look At Quality

When looking at images for your website, make sure to emphasize the quality. Since stock photography websites get many submissions, they often neglect to vet each picture and end up with low quality. 

However, dark, pixelated/blurry images or even shot in low light will not help you attract the audience you wish. Instead, these pictures will negatively impact your visitors, who will likely choose not to interact with your page. 

Simply put, don’t ignore the quality of pictures. Look comprehensively at each one you select for any flaws and use the one that fits the standard you require perfectly. 

Don’t: Forget to Add Your Own Pictures

While stock photographs may offer the easiest route, they cannot compete with the authenticity of a customized picture. And thanks to smartphones and DSLR cameras, you don’t have to be a professional to take good-looking pictures. 

In fact, you shouldn’t rely on stock photography alone and combine both – stock and customized photos to spice up your layout.

Wrapping it up

Stock photographs are versatile, and you can use them in many areas on your website. But make sure to follow the best practices of using them to ensure your pictures are giving the value you strive for. Good luck!