5 Simple Rules For Using Stock Images That Will Make You Money
I’m a words guy. It’s really that simple. I listen to music for the lyrics and I don’t care too much about things like the melody or how the various pieces harmonize. I am listening to music for many of the same reasons I read a book or a blog. I want to learn from someone else’s experiences. Because of this I tend to ignore the importance of images and tend to look at them more as decoration at worst, and at best, a design aspect added to guide a user’s eye to specific more important words. So when I need an image for a web page or a blog post, I typically head over to our stock photography partner, type in a few keywords and look to find an image that sort of fits. This is absolutely the wrong approach to image selection and it’s costing you money.


5 Simple Rules For Using Stock Images That Will Make You Money

  • A Well Designed Page Doesn’t Require Images
  • Most Stock Photography Detracts Instead of Enhances
  • Use Real People Over Cartoons
  • Use Images to Show A Product
  • No Product? Use Images To Guide Your User Through The Page

A Well Designed Page Doesn’t Require Images


There are a few icons on this page, yes—but there isn’t a single image and yet the page is beautiful, it’s clear what the product is and how it works. It tells me right up top what it does: unlocks cellphones. In general, if I’m looking for this service I probably have some idea on what it is already, so the site is designed to get me started as quickly as possible.


Most Stock Photography Detracts Instead of Enhances



No one believes this is your team. In fact, no one wants this to be your team. These people don’t look like anyone you ought to trust to do your business. This picture really couldn’t look any more fake and yet it is the first thing people see when they come to your site. Do you really believe giving the impression of “falsehood” is going to help your conversion rate?


Use Real People Over Cartoons


While using a cartoon fits Basecamp’s image I can’t help and feel that I don’t feel the same kind of connection to the product as I do when someone like Conversion Lab: 



Use Images To Show A Product




I don’t think anyone could possibly misunderstand what Mint.com does based on this picture. The images make it very clear that it is a visual interface and with you take it in context with the text above it, it is clearly a visual interface for a finance tracking application/website.


Use An Image To Guide a User Through Your Page


This isn’t a new tactic by any stretch of the imagination. It’s something that newspapers, the stalwart of another era, have been using for print media since Guttenberg first figured out the whole moveable type thing. Here is a great example from Politiken (note: I have no idea what the words say—so if it is anything terribly offensive, sorry.) **POLITIKEN IMAGE GOES HERE** It quickly guides you down the page from the new weather notice at the top left down through the page ending on an ad for Christmas? Who knows. But you go from weather to Politiken, to the first article headline, the giant image on design (where even the image guides you down to the bottom of the page) where you run across a handful of ads before changing the page. You can do the exact same thing in your landing pages (though probably not as skillfully as Politiken does it) Let’s take this Geico landingpage as an example: **GEICO IMAGE GOES HERE** The color from the header guides you directly into the image of the Gecko. The Gecko’s eyes take you right to the “Get an online quote:” If you keep going down the page, you’ll notice that the Gecko’s thumb is pointing at “Find a local agent” which is the second call to action of the page. Keep going down and then the Gecko’s tail guides to into the word “GEICO” which is designed to, at the very least, at least get a branding touch point with the user.



What Are Some Terrible Stock Photos?


Oh man, there are so many stock photos I hope I never see on a website again. Here are a few of my favorites:




“I want you to admit before these sycophants, that my beard is far superior to your own.” 

“Yes, I’m really on the other side of every customer service call you’ve ever made.” 


“Oh I know! I’ll milk a lifetime long career out of people standing in front of chalk boards with hastily drawn images on them! BRILLIANT!” 

“Alright, so we want to get across the idea that we’re an insurance company…but our marketing department has this mouth full of jargon they want to present to the customers. What’s the best way of getting ALL of that across in one image?”



“So we HAVE to have a picture on the page and I really need to get across this intangible concept. How do we do it?”



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