How to choose photos for your website – and stay within the law

Minimalism may currently be popular when it comes to website design, but it’s nonetheless true that few communication tools have greater power than images.

Poor picture choice can have a negative impact on just about anything, from user experience to search engine rankings to conversion rates and website credibility.

At the same time, your photographs need to complement your content, rather than overwhelming it completely.

Here are some of the key things to look out for:

  • Quality above all else

Think high resolution and the right size of photograph for what you are trying to achieve for pixel-perfect imagery. Anything less will just look unprofessional.

  • Encourage action

Your images should help persuade whoever’s viewing them to take action, preferably placing an order.

  • Relevant to your brand

Any pictures you feature must have relevance to your brand’s identity. For example, if you’re an upmarket furniture seller, everything about the photos must look classy, so that the viewer is left in no doubt as to what your brand stands for.

The right imagery will also highlight that what you do is different from the competition – and why.

  • Get real

When it comes to pictures of people, try to avoid stock images. We’ve all seen websites with these kinds of photos, and they can look hackneyed. And in the worst case scenario, the same image may have been used elsewhere.

So give images the importance they deserve – and don’t be afraid to let them show emotion and showcase your brand’s personality.

What about copyright?

Clearly, if you violate copyright, even unwittingly, the consequences could be very serious. So you need to be very clear that you have legal permission to use any photos you publish online.

Sources might include:

  • Public domain images – Copyright may have expired or never existed in the first place, or the work may have been simply released into the public domain for whatever reason. Check out Flickr and Wikimedia Commons.
  • Creative Commons – Bear in mind that not all images here will be available for commercial use, and you will also need to heed attribution rules.
  • Stock photos – As long as you’ve paid the licensing fee, you can use these and they cover a massive range of subjects and are high-quality. However, be aware of any stipulations attached, and remember our caveat above about stock photos of people.
  • Social media – Again these images are protected by copyright, so secure permission beforehand. Just because they’ve been used online, they’re not free to reproduce.

Alternatively, of course, you can always take your own photos, and you can do this to a reasonable standard with a smartphone, or pay for a professional shoot.

How we can help

At Front Page Advantage, we can help with advice on which images will best tell your brand’s story, and offer guidance on copyright issues. Give us a call about what you need and with any questions you may have and we’ll be delighted to help.