Stock Images: Should You Use Them?

It goes without saying that quality images should be a priority when designing your website and shaping your brand. In fact, research suggests that around 67% of online shoppers rated images as a crucial factor in their buying decision as compared to testimonials and descriptions.

Finding the right images is another story. Any professional will tell you that original, high-quality images are the best way to project your brand’s persona, but it can be difficult to stay consistent when producing original images regularly.

That’s where stock photos come in handy. They’re cost-effective, convenient, and there are thousands to choose from.

So what should you do? In this post, we break down stock photos so you can make the best decision for your business website.

Stock Photos: The Good and Bad

Even though on the surface stock photos are convenient and affordable, it’s tricky to navigate the most effective way to use them. If care is not taken when choosing stock photos, it can have detrimental effects on your website.

For example, say you find the perfect stock photo and upload it to your landing page. However, your competitor is also using the same stock photo. Or, your chosen photo is popular and many brands are using it.

This can result in what’s called the picture superiority effect, where a consumer views the image on one website, then sees it on another, and remembers the brand for the picture rather than the message it’s supposed to convey.

This can have either a positive or negative effect. For instance, if a user sees the stock photo on a website that they had a negative user experience with, then once they see it on your website, those negative feelings might crop up, adding friction to the user’s experience as they begin to learn about your brand.

So how can you tread carefully in the stock photo realm? Here are some tips:

- Turn to a reverse image search such as TinEye to see how many times the image has been used. You can go through the results to discover if it’s utilized in the same market as your brand and if so it’s best to pick something else.

- Opt for an image with a Rights Managed License, which gives you exclusive rights within your market for a specified length of time.

- Once you’ve purchased a stock photo, go the extra yard and edit it to make it your own. You can do this by changing the background, cropping, or adding typographic pairings.