Stock photo sites are a godsend for ethical website and blog owners who simply don’t have the time or expertise to provide their own quality photographs. Unfortunately, clichés have evolved from the overuse of certain types of stock images. In this case, sometimes it’s better to avoid emulating the competition, and consider paying a premium for a unique, original photograph.

Watch Out for Clichés

If you’re a one-man show, it’s okay to be honest about it and avoid pictures that imply a whole team of well-dressed professionals.

Don’t Forget to Use Faces

It’s a long-proven fact that pictures with people in them are always more engaging than photographs of landscapes, animals, or inanimate objects. Portraying human emotions with images is a great way to drive home the point you’re trying to make in your website text. Consider using your own image on your contact information page, particularly if your business is geared towards one-on-one interaction such as consulting. If you do this, it’s best to have a professional photograph taken. Often, a local photography student will be willing to take your picture for a reasonable price.

Consider the Big Picture

Make sure your images are complementary to the overall atmosphere of your website. Avoid clashing colors or too much busyness on a single page, such as multiple flashy or dynamic graphics, which can be uncomfortable and distracting for visitors. Aesthetic positioning of images is an art form of its own, but satisfactory results can be achieved by emulating professionally designed websites that you admire.

Use Cascading Style Sheets to ensure that your images are properly positioned in relation to the text that references them. Visitors dropping by your webpage will often notice the images first. If the image is interesting, they will then scan the text for the related story. Web surfers quickly become frustrated when they don’t immediately find what they’re looking for, so make it easy for them.

Image Size, Resolution, and File Types

Optimizing image parameters for the web can be easily accomplished in a basic image editing program by cropping and resizing images to a smaller size as necessary and converting to an appropriate file type (compatible file types for the web include JPEG, PNG, and GIF). Higher image resolutions mean unnecessarily slow loading times, which can be extremely frustrating for would-be repeat visitors. Some programs have an “optimize for web” feature which converts resolution to 72 dpi, which is standard for the web.

Make Your Images SEO-Friendly

Use related image and folder names with a logical folder structure. All of the images for your site should be kept together in one folder. When naming your alt tags, keywords are important. However, keep in mind that addressing your readers with a clear description of what the image references is a much better approach than attempting to stuff your alt tag with a long, nonsensical list of keywords. Finally, if you link to an image, remember to use descriptive anchor text.

A visually-appealing website is essential to stand out from the competition and secure repeat visitors, so make sure you take the time to get your images right.