1. Only use them if you must.
The second rule of stock images is the same as the first. So, maybe not quite as extreme as Fight Club, but pretty darn close.
Maybe you’re asking, “Hey, what’s so wrong with stock images? You use them, Rachel!” Yes, yes I do. Here are my reasons why I do and some good guidelines to help you from reeking of inauthenticity, if you ever must.
1. Reinforcement of writing.
Images have the potential to communicate more to a viewer more than what little they read. It’s a little thing called ‘visual communication’ and I do it everyday. It can be overt or subtle, and we are so bombarded by images, most of the time we don’t even realize we’ve deciphered one even after we’ve done it.
Images can pack an emotional punch that can be hard to evoke from writing alone.
One of my marketing idols, Derek Halpern, has a nice little post about how any claim next to an image is more believable than a statement with no image based on a psychological study.
Someone pointing at something or looking at something can direct the viewers eye to what you want them to look at on the page.
5. Break up text.
It is widely known that people rarely read text on websites thats all clumped together in one paragraph or several large ones. Big paragraphs are overwhelming – short lines are easier and more manageable. Headlines and images are perfect for breaking up those big paragraphs, so people read more.
A few Guidelines for Using Stock Images…
- Only use them if you must. Yep, really had to drive it home.
- Choose ones without people. An easy way to instantly look less cheesy.
- If you really need people, try to find ones where people are not recognizable and/or not making eye-contact with the viewer. Out of all stock images, these are the king of “big fat liars”. They are usually cold, impersonal and unmistakable as stock images, (which if you can’t tell is not-so-great for your street cred.)
- Ironically. If you’re using them to be funny – that’s awesome. Just make sure people know it’s a joke and carry on, my friend!
- You can afford really nice, really expensive ones, from somewhere like Getty Images.
So – A few things to try before running to istock…
Instead, try using photos you’ve taken yourself, photos taken by friends/family, really large text in a different color – or best of all high-quality images by a professional photographer of you, the space you work in or things related to ‘what you do’.
Hope that helps you the next time you’re thinking of using a stock image! :)!
Rachel C Vane aka RC Vane
Owner of RC Vane Print+Web Design + Creator of Website Envy