Stock Images Vs. Real Images

Featured Images

Yes, I know this image is awful. That’s the whole point.

In the past, we’ve discussed  the importance of a good logo when it comes to building your brand’s image. But now we’re going to talk about the featured images on your website.

With the rise of social media platforms like Instragram and Pinterest, which are very much based on the visual, we can see that internet users are highly interested in what they are seeing. This literally means that image is everything when it comes to creating a trustworthy brand.

Should You Be Skipping the Clip Art and Stock Images?

This may seem like its a no-brainer, especially when looking at the featured image to go with this post. Let’s be honest. It’s pretty awful. But are your real-life images going to look any better than the attempt these girls made? While original images that represent real people can be a great way for businesses to add a personal touch, it really just depends on the quality and the kind of image you are using. Besides, you may not have anyone who can photograph images for you within the budget you need. Also, sometimes your real life people are going to make some really awful models. I know I do.

There is one place that you should definitely be using real images: your website’s “About” page. A great way to do this is have a little description of key employees, or if your small enough, each employee in the company, next to a professional image. These profiles can go beyond just what they do for the company, but also highlight some personal interests and goals each individual has.

Sections like this create an atmosphere of trust for potential clients. If they can go to the website and know right away that they are dealing with real people, they are more likely to not only remember your company, but to also want to do business with you. Small businesses have an advantage in being able to have a personal relationship with individuals, so use that advantage!

Feature Happy Clients In Your Images

What this does for your website:

1. Featured images of actual happy customers provides authenticity to your business’s desire to have quality customer service. Whether you use this image on a testimonial page, a blog post, or even as the banner on your website, it is definitely something you want to highlight as long as your customers are willing to let you use the image, and the image is of high enough quality to be worthy of the prime spot on your website.

2. It’s also a way to recognize, and thank your clients publicly on your website. And if they happen to be a business you can mention the business they are representing which they will also appreciate.

Images of real people make your business more real to someone on the outside looking at your website. They provide life and authenticity to your company, in turn making you a safer and more reliable person to do business with.

On The Flip Side

Having stock photos on your website homepage is not unusual, and it can truly look very professional. Just be aware that a lot of it honestly looks cheesy and forced, and you definitely do not want that. Having images that are consistent with your brand is important to creating a website that aligns with your company’s image and represents you in the best way possible.

Think about it this way: if someone asks to “be your friend” on your personal Facebook account, or requests to follow you on Twitter and the only images they have available are cat pictures, or an image of a celebrity, are you going to accept their request? Chances are most people won’t unless they are pretty sure that they know this person. Otherwise there is no telling who is really on the other side of the computer.

These same principles apply to business. If you’re going to use images with actual human beings in them, instead of graphic designs, make sure that those images really highlight how professional and real your brand is. If your stock images are obviously just that: a goofy, fake photo, that featured image is not promoting trust in your company. In fact, it makes it look as though your business is too cheap to buy a quality image. It also insults the viewers of your website by making it seem that they will actually want to read, or trust, something with such a horrible image.