When browsing online nothing catches our attention more than images, one of the best forms of representation that transcend language barriers and allows for a good understanding of almost any subject. Images are an important aspect of design and marketing for your website, but just as they can be powerful tools to impress and deliver messages to your visitors, if poorly chosen, they can deliver the complete opposite effect.
It is important to know how to pick the correct images for your website, but it’s not always easy to find them. One would think that you can just Google for images and freely use them anywhere. That is not the case. We must remember that images have different kinds of usage licenses, you’ll need to be sure that the images on your website are not going to get you in trouble. We’ll go through the most common licenses that you will find around and suggest some good image sources for you to explore.
Image Copyright and Licenses
Let’s start with the most critical aspect when choosing images for your own website. Nobody wants to get contacted by copyright owners about illegal use of their images. Let us take a look at the most common licenses that you will find when searching for the perfect image that fits in with what you want to portray:
Own Work: You create the image and thus own all the rights to the image, this is a very good alternative for many businesses if the budget is available.
Public Domain: These are generally the images you are looking for, their intellectual property rights have either expired or have been made free of charge for general usage.
Creative Commons: There are many different creative commons licenses, you can check them all out here. These can have a variety of forms of attribution, such as demanding you to credit the author or page it was obtained from.
Royalty-Free: These are paid images. Once purchased, Royalty-Free images can be used as many times as desired, without the need to re-purchase for every additional use.
Rights-Managed: As opposed to Royalty-Free images, these have a limit of how many times you can use them. If you wish to keep using the same Rights-Managed image, you will then need to pay for it again.
Always check which kind of licenses the images you want are attributed to before placing them on your website and whenever possible, try to invest into creating the images yourself by hiring a professional photographer or graphic designer. Creating your own images allow you to adjust them to fit better with your brand’s colors and gives your website a greater visual identity.
Use high-quality images
Remember, images are there to catch your visitors’ attention and deliver messages to them without the need to use words and even breaking through any kind of language barrier. It is important to always look for high-quality images, pay close attention to the image’s dimensions and be sure that they fit in properly. If you ever need to resize an image, be sure not to lose quality when doing so.
People are quick to judge when something doesn’t look good and having images with poor quality on your website can damage your connection with your visitors and your brand. Check the example below.
Use Alt Text for your images
Don’t forget to give your website images alt attributes. These are used to describe what’s on the image and help your website to be better addressed by Search Engine Optimization tools as well as increasing your website’s accessibility for people who can’t see images when browsing due to slow connection speeds or even visually impaired visitors who use screen readers.
This is how an alt tag would look like on your HTML code, for example:
img src=“image.jpg” alt=“image description”
Your alt text should contain keywords as well as a very direct and precise description of what is the content being portrayed in the image. Google on its Image Publishing Guidelines article has a dedicated section about alt texts and how to properly attribute them, which can be found here.
Caring for accessibility is a social responsibility and will increase your visitors’ trust on your brand.
Pay attention to the colors
Building trust through branding is an important aspect of any successful business. When looking for images to use on your website, try to always use those that match your brand’s colors as closely as possible.
This is an important design aspect that will both make your website look professional as well as help to catch your visitors’ attention. Many fail to recognize the importance of this aspect, but having images with different color schemes can actually make your visitors uncomfortable when browsing your website.
Find what you need on image banks
If you don’t have the budget to invest in creating images for your website yourself, don’t worry. There are many image banks out there with all different kinds of stock images for you to use on your website. Most of them will easily display information regarding copyright and license attributions to each image being shown.
Keep in mind when using stock images that you want your website to look unique. Avoid using stock images that look fake and fail to connect your brand with your target audience. We have a list of recommended Image Banks for you to explore.
Flickr is probably the biggest resource of free images online. There are millions of images that can be used on your website. Flickr allows people to share their own photos and pictures there so it may be hard to find professional, high-quality images sometimes. Be sure to explore their official page.
This is one of the best websites to find high-quality Creative Commons images. They are also very committed to building a community for photographers to share their pictures, counting on over 13 million photographers from 190 countries. Check out their Creative Commons section.
3. IM Free
IM Free is a great website for free images. They separate images in a variety of categories such as ambient, transportation, food & drinks, and many more. You’ll surely be able to find images for any kind of business on their page.
Shutterstock is great for their vast collection of vector images and icons. Their images are not free of charge but they offer affordable monthly subscriptions or package deals. It’s a great place to search for exclusive images if you want to make your website look unique. If you have the budget, be sure to check them out.
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