Last month, I presented the Small Business Owner’s Guide to Personifying Your Brand. In that article, I spoke of the research needed to define the message and tone of the website. Extending this to the visual concept of photos is the next logical step to building out a complete website.

The photos posted on your website should enhance your business and online messaging. These photos can come from within—hiring a photographer to take photos of all the employees, your office building, images of your products. Still, though, to save money, you may need to resort to stock photos. Stock photos are available for a reasonable cost online through many stock photo websites. This is one way to ensure your website uses licensed images. But, without doing some work beforehand, it’s a hard task to determine which photos will best enhance the website, instead of bringing it down.

When surfing the web, you can typically tell immediately when a website uses stock photography. The images stand out – too impersonal, nothing to connect the image to the website or to the business.  When it comes to using stock photos, there are ways to use them so that they don’t stand out.

Tips to Using Stock Photos

  • Determine what you want the imagery to convey: the emotion and the message. This helps tremendously when deciding the photo to use. Know ahead of time what you want to express and if the image doesn’t fit, then don’t use it.
  • Know who your target audience is and make sure the images reflect their values. Again, this will help place tangible, concrete lines to ensure the photos fit accordingly to your message and your audience.
  • Provide the right visual message. In my last post, I talked about identifying the emotion and personality of the website. Here is where you can put that knowledge to work. Knowing where your photos need to fit in the range of fun to serious can help ensure the proper photos are picked and used.
  • Make sure the color fits into the overall color scheme of the website. There is nothing that makes a photo stand out more than if the colors draw the eye – unless it is intentional. Make sure you are aware of the color profile of the images being chosen so they fit into the overall look of the site as intended.

There are certainly ways to use stock photos to enhance a website. But to do so, they must blend well with the overall message of the website, resonate with the target audience, and reflect the business values. They must fit into the color scheme of the site or use contrasting color to enhance the site message.

Doing this little bit of ground work prior to finding the right images will make the whole process easier – and the final product – your website – will look all the better because of it.