Yes, I have written about media files and more specifically about the necessity of images for websites. I think we already agree that the proper use of images on a website is an absolute must. We will not revisit these statements in this post. In this article I may run the risk of being a bit of a nag.
Although I would not like to be called a nag it is important that I share some of my and other designers’ experience in the web design arena when it comes to website images.
WebScripto, like most other web design/development companies, freelancers and agencies makes use of stock images, clients’ images and or include photography as part of our services.
Many clients in the industry prefer not to make use of the photography services of the web designer/developer. The reason for this is more often than not to save money. This is pretty normal as we all need to cut costs as far as possible. We are after all not all running Blue Chip Companies with unlimited budgets. Following recent experiences as well as seeing similar experiences among our peers I realized that there may be a lack of understanding in respect of the process to source images for websites and the quality of the images to be used in websites.
Unfortunately, it has happened lately that clients who insisted that they supply the images offered low quality and unsuitable images. We have also upon occasion been requested to download images from a client competitor’s website as they sell the same products. We will look at sources for images later in this article. It is however important to first understand some fundamentals in respect of website images.
First of all, copyright exists regarding a photographer’s work and cannot be published (even on a website) without their permission. All images on a website will have some sort of a copyright protection unless clearly specified otherwise.
Secondly, all photographs to be displayed on a website must meet specific standards in order to add value to your website. These standards include artistic and technical values. The difference between a properly planned image and a point and shoot image is clear. So is the difference between a properly edited and non-edited image. Nothing can destroy a website quicker than an unprocessed pixelated image.
Thirdly, it is not conducive to a well-planned website to have both landscape and portrait images arbitrarily placed next to one another. This is not only displeasing to a visitor but also reflects on the standard of your service and/or products. When you have an e-commerce website being created it is of critical importance that your images are all of the same size, format and quality.
Having proper images on your website is a must and should actually be the last area you would want to compromise or save costs on. With the above being said we can consider the various mining sources for images.
Let’s have a look at the various sources for images.
We all know what stock images are. We also know what they look like. Yes, we can often point them out from afar. They consist of all the beautiful people in pristine environments which I sometimes suspect to be from a parallel universe. I certainly never see people like them when I visit a mall. Neither do I see places like that when I visit my doctor, the hospital or attorneys. A new trend is in fact developing as I am writing this post; new non-stock-looking stock websites are shooting up overnight like mushrooms. The reason for this is clear. Stock images are fake and quite frankly, sometimes off-putting.
Stock images are not always bad. It can be a very handy source if you use the correct image(s). It can also speed up the finalisation of the website. Although stock images are notoriously expensive you can actually save money by not having hundreds of images taken in an expensive studio to only use 4 or 5 of them on your website. There are actually free stock image websites that you can visit and from which you can download quality free images. The only problem here is that a lot of people know of these free images and they are used frequently. Kindly see the below list of free stock image websites:
Many of these photographs are free from copyright restrictions or licensed under creative commons public domain dedication. This simply means that you can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without having to ask permission.
However, some photos may require attribution. We advise you to do your own research and determine how these images can be used as specified on the respective websites.
The above list is not exhaustive. For a more complete list kindly have a look at this article.
Personalised Professional Photography:
Although this choice may be more costly it may also have massive benefits over stock images. These images will be unique. It will show your products, your services and your business and staff. You will be able to make an input which will reflect in the final product. I have been in situations where a client actually directed the whole shoot and I only had to concentrate on the technical aspects such as presentation, correct lighting etc.
As a photographer and web designer I have found immense value in working closely with a customer in this manner as I get to know the client and his/her product better which eventually shows in the website. The added value in using a photographer to shoot your product and services is that these images can also be used in other media such as pamphlets and catalogs.
Your own images:
As many other web designers have done, WebScripto has used images provided by the customer. In this paragraph I am not referring to images taken by a professional photographer.
It is not impossible to do the photography yourself. I have seen many good images taken by clients who claim that they are not photographers. The benefit with this option is obviously the lower costs. If you prefer to provide the images yourself, it may be advisable to consider the following:
- Consistency in layout (landscape or portrait mode), lighting, colour of the background, editing etc.
- Good lighting, in other words not over or under exposed.
- Sharp images.
- High resolution in order to allow for some cropping and post processing.
- The format in which you present the images to the web designer. BMP format is a big no.
- The actual size and aspect ratio of the images as requested by the web designer.
We frequently advise clients for whom we develop e-commerce websites to request product images from the relevant manufacturer of the products. Although we have a fully equipped photographic studio and professional product photography equipment we have enabled clients to cut on costs by sourcing their images from the manufacturers of the different products they are selling. Manufacturers do not mind to share the images in the knowledge that they will increase their business as well.
To recap quickly, please make sure that your website images enhance your online presence. Do not accept anything less than the best image quality. Rather cut out on some fancy (non-essential) website gimmick if you need to cut on some costs.
If you have another source of images you would like to share or if you simply want to comment on this post, you are welcome to do so. Until next time, take care.