January 16, 2015

Don’t Let Stock Photos Lower Your Stock

By Megan G.

Stock photos. They can serve as the final touch to your website or they can be jarringly weird and distracting. I’ve seen my fair share of both, though my favorite examples have to be from dentist sites. The first picture that I most often see is of a family lying on the floor, as happy as clams.

By the looks on the kids’ faces, I’d say that little Waldo had to sit through a teeth cleaning, and his sister Suzie cried her way out of it.

Okay, I get it.  Everyone is excited about their healthy teeth, which they all have thanks to their skilled dentist/orthodontist/endodontist/whateverdontist.  It’s a little weird that they’ve decided to lay on their shag rug to celebrate this, but who am I to judge?  This photo is still effective because human faces, especially happy human faces, are a powerful tool for grabbing the attention of your audience.  They also help to quell fears of a stereotypical “scary” dentist office.

Going All Natural

It is important to ensure customers that your product or services come from living, breathing human beings and not a faceless, monolithic company.  While “real” photos help, you don’t need them to create an effective user experience. 

Let’s say that your company sells a minty, organic mouth rinse (talk about your niche markets) and you want a picture of a snowy mountain range to emphasize your product’s cool, refreshing feel.  You wouldn’t take some treacherous hike, risking life and limb in a blistering snowstorm, just to take a picture.  Well, I wouldn’t.  I like my cubicle.  I could just grab that image from a professional stock photo website, either for free or for a modest fee. Easy-peasy, and no frostbite required. 

Out of the Box and Into the Puppy Pen

Some stock photo tropes have fallen into cliché, and many of them teeter on the borders of extremely cheesy and just plain boring.  To prevent this from happening, you must add some personal flair to your visuals.  Let’s use this roly-poly fellow as an example.

Your first instinct, after an insatiable urge to cuddle with him and make disgusting baby-noises, might be to use this bulldog as a promotional photo for a pet grooming business or pet supply store.  Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box!  Animals promote positive moods and photos of them can make earning customers’ trust easier, even if your company specializes in a category outside of pet care. 

Consider this caption paired with a pup:
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Or a sports bar promotion with this guy: 

Rough day?
Come relax at the Blarney Lounge, an Irish pub with barking-good ale!

Dogs and cats do well on the Internet, as YouTube and LOLcats can attest to.  There are some images, however, that tend to make people uncomfortable or confused. 

All’s Well That Ends With Taters 

Stock photos can act as effective tools to catch customers’ eyes, keep them on your site, and start off their relationship with your company in the best way possible.  Remember, your chosen stock photos must be relevant, relatively unique, and appropriately tailored to your services.  

In visual summary, Boy on Potato is an example of a high quality stock picture you could use for a nutritional diet website…

…but, like our friend on this tuber, it just doesn’t sit right.  Practice good judgment, Tekkies! 

Do you use stock photos for your business website?  Have you noticed a difference in the effect of stock pictures as opposed to real ones?  Let the Tek Team know in the comments below! 

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