Modern Design, Where Does Stock Photography Fit In?

The psychology behind website usability has quickly become one of the most valuable bits of information a webmaster can have regarding their traffic. What users are doing when they land on a website offers quantifiable value in market research. Having a deep understanding of this traffic will offer you the information needed to seamlessly guide users around the page as naturally as possible.

Using this information to design a site best suited for the clients and customers you are trying to connect with will ultimately result in lower bounce rates and higher conversions. And while there are unlimited numbers of ways you can tinker and tweak with this information, there are some key things to keep in mind regarding the visual design of your site.

Stock photography is a fantastic tool, one that many great web designers utilize to fulfill a need of creating visual elements of a site. However, just like anything in design, such a powerful tool can inevitably be used incorrectly and inefficiently. Here are some tips to ensure you are creating the most powerful response with your website’s imagery:

Avoid Traditional Photos

I understand the clear image that a smiling call center employee offers. “We’re here to greet you with fantastic service and a smile!” But keep in mind that of the thousands of websites that provide service on the internet, that picture is infamously on the majority of them.

Not to mention the homepage photo of people shaking hands. What once was one of the strongest symbols of unwritten contractual agreement has been overused to the point where the value of the image is almost laughable.

Utilize Creativity

We can’t all be graphic designers and professional photographers. And those services can be expensive, especially for a small business. But consider taking a less traditional approach. Use imagery that really creates an environment. Consider sorting your search queries for only vectors and illustrations to break free from overused photography. Use something that relates to your message, but don’t be afraid to be abstract in concept. The most powerful images will create curiosity.

Consider Videos

Engaging your users is a fantastic way to minimize bounce rates and create more commitment to product pages. A visible and obvious video embedded neatly in your site can quickly create engagement. Video product reviews are a fantastic way to display the most information on product pages without boring site visitors with long text-based descriptions that otherwise might be left unread.
Even if you do not have the capacity to create your own videos, Shutterstock has a great collection of stock footage you can utilize to create even more vivid imagery and engagement. A well-placed landing page video will do far more to captivate your audience than standalone text or images.

Don’t Fear White Space

Any designer can tell you, white space can be far more powerful than any forced images could ever be. Plenty of great websites leave the majority of space blank in order to draw attention to a very specific feature (one that comes to mind is Google, you’ve probably heard of it). White space creates what basically is the equivalent of several arrows pointing directly at one focal point without being quite as obnoxious.

This is a guest post by Rob Toledo who is working alongside Shutterstock. You can follow him on Twitter @stentontoledo.