Do’s and Don’ts of Using Stock Photography in Web Design

stock photography tips

Typically, marketers stress over getting the best content for their web pages. They go at all ends by hiring the most proficient writers for a quality copy to promote their brand. Whereas visual content such as images, videos, and illustrations are often sidelined. 

Yes, the importance of text in web design cannot be designed. But images also play an equally significant role – if not more! In fact, images are considered one of the top visual elements that consumers value on a website. 

When choosing pictures for websites, you come across two choices: original photos or stock pictures. Or you could use the combination of both, after considering their different pros and cons. 

But if you are using original or custom pictures, you have the liberty to use them as per your liking. As for stock images, you have to be more careful before making them a part of your web design

To help you use them safely and leverage their full potential, we will talk about some do’s and don’ts of using stock images in web design.

Let’s begin!

Don’t: Forget to Verify The License

You cannot just take any image you like from your Google search for your website. To ensure you are legally using an image shot by another photographer, visit credible websites to buy stock photos. This will help you avoid any copyright conflicts that can occur if you use a picture that does not permit usage for commercial purposes. 

Generally, there are three types of licenses that stock image websites offer for their resources:

  1. Royalty-Free
  2. Rights Managed
  3. Extended License

The license information and its correct usage is available under the pictures you choose. Check the details carefully before you make a purchase. This practice will help you know your options for what you can and cannot do with the images in your web design.

Do: Add Relevant Images

Stock image websites are full of captivating and attractive imagery. Making a selection for your web layout from a plethora of images can be daunting. While the selection procedure can overwhelm you, we advise you to stay relevant. Instead of checking every image haphazardly, you should keep your search smart.

Many stock image platforms have categorized their visual assets, making it easy for users to look for relevant images. Some such repository websites also provide smart search filters to help narrow down your search. Use these functions wisely to deliver valuable content to your visitors. 

Don’t: Use Cliche And Generic Images

Stock images are available to anyone – even your peers and competitors. Because of this reason, you have to be very careful in your selection, so you don’t end up using the same pictures as them. Adding generic and cliche images to your web design, no matter how catchy they seem, is a big no-no!

We recommend thorough research and not relying on the top results to avoid this issue. Keep your web design unique to remain authentic. What if you and your competitor are using the same metaphorical pictures to symbolize the ingenuity of your services? It wouldn’t seem so genuine, would it?

Do: Add Your Own Creative Touch!

We have covered why you should not use cliche or generic stock images in your web design. Now, let’s talk about how you can modify stock images and make them feel more original. The best part of using stock photos is that you don’t have to use them as it is. You can edit as per the requirements of your brand. Many stock image websites also have online picture editors for this purpose.

For example, every business has its brand colors. Adding color overlays on stock images can make them look more suitable to your brand. You can also crop stock images and use only the parts relevant to your products or service. Another idea is to add texts to the photos and edit them so that they resonate more with your web design. 

But before you start, remember to read the terms of use of the stock images you have chosen for your web design!

Don’t: Forget to Optimize The Images

No matter how impressive your web design is, it will fail without an excellent SEO strategy. We all know that high-quality images can be heavy, and they can weigh down the website. A page that takes some time to load is not only abandoned by the users but also adversely impacts the SEO rankings.

So, while working on content SEO, consider image optimization equally crucial. Creating an image optimization strategy is a comprehensive task. But to give you an idea, here are some tips you can follow:

  1. Give a proper title to every image and incorporate your keywords in the title.
  2. Compress the images and choose the correct formats (JPG, PNG, and GIF) to represent them. 
  3. Add alt-text to your stock images.
  4. Make your images adaptive and responsive to various screen sizes and layouts.
  5. Add each visual asset to your sitemap.

You can manipulate stock images to improve your website’s SEO ranking with these tips. 

Do: Use High-quality Images

Focusing on quality is also essential for a great web design. Images that are not bright enough or have low resolution can turn your entire web design upside down. Dark and pixelated images will put off the users and increase your website’s bounce rate.

On the other hand, pristine images with high resolutions can do wonders to your web design. But high quality could also mean heavier file size. And we don’t want heavy images slowing down your website. What you can do is try different compression rates for your pictures to retain the image clarity while keeping the file size minimal.

Don’t: Forget to Give Credit

Although most stock image platforms don’t ask you to give credit, some websites require you to do so. As we mentioned before, read the terms of use carefully before utilizing a stock photo for your website. The guidelines will state whether you need to give credit or not!

And even if it is not necessary, we consider it a courteous gesture to mention the man behind the camera. Doing so would give the required recognition to the photographer and help them grow their business.

Do: Prioritize The Latest Picture Trends

Stock image websites are full of visual assets – old and new. You can find both the latest, most trendy pictures or images with themes that are no longer in vogue. So, even if the untrendy photos appeal to you the most, it will be unwise to incorporate them into your web design.

For example, you may find many stock pictures that display earlier smartphone versions. However, using them on your webpage will make your site appear outdated. Avoid such photographs and select the ones that are current.

Remember: Trends in web design come and go! Choosing the most trendy stock images to complement your even trendier web design will be best.


Stock images can be a savior when you have a tight budget and getting original photographs taken is not feasible. These images are not only cheaper compared to the original ones but are also available in different categories – from alluring scenic pictures to web design elements like icons and tabs – all on one platform.

You can simply design your entire website using stock images. But while you do that, keep these tips in mind to save your web design from appearing unauthentic or too cliche!

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