17 Apr 2023
Stock Images in Web Design

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

In recent years, the web design industry has seen an explosion in the use of stock images. These images add to a website’s overall aesthetic and create a feeling of professionalism at a fraction of the cost. 

With stock photographs, you can easily achieve a high-end looking web design. And with such a wide variety of options out there, it’s hard to go wrong. 

However, if stock photos are misused, they can make your website look fake, amateur, or cheap. So, whether you’re a professional designer or just getting started, this article will help by listing the Do’s and Don’ts of using stock images in web design projects. 


Do: Choose Images That Are Relevant to Your Content

When choosing images for your web design, always consider their relevancy to the content and message you are trying to convey. These will increase readers’ engagement with your brand and website, making them feel more connected to the content. They may even recall the illustrated idea more than the words in your content!

The best way to find relevant images is to use the available filters on the stock photo websites to narrow down your search. With these filters, you can easily find the content according to your brand’s niche, color scheme, dimensions, and emotions you wish to convey.

Do: Use Legally Licensed Images

Legally licensed stock images are a must for any web design project. This ensures you are using pictures the creator has allowed for commercial use, so you won’t violate copyright law if you use them in your work. Failure to comply with the legal rules can result in DMCA takedown notice, penalty, and even jail time. 

In addition, legally licensed images typically come with usage rights that outline how you can use the images, which can help you avoid unintentional infringement.

Thankfully, the internet is filled with many reliable stock photo sites that offer convenient license options. But make sure to recheck the terms and conditions to verify the legal guidelines. 

Overall, using legally licensed images is the responsible and ethical choice for any website designer or business owner.

Do: Customize Stock Images 

Stock images are great but can feel bland and lifeless if you don’t use your efforts in the design. Therefore, it’s ideal to customize your pictures so they stand out. When you edit your stock images, you can make them unique and recognizable. 

With this approach, you won’t be constrained by the online stock images but instead empowered to design visuals that align precisely with your website’s vision.

There are many ways to customize stock images for web design:

  • Use a different background color
  • Change text size and color
  • Add a border around the image
  • Add shadows and brighten the image
  • Crop the picture and use only specific subject
  • Add overlays

You can also find many templates online that offer a variety of options for customization, including changing the background color and adding your text. 

These small changes will make a big difference in how people perceive your website and hopefully keep them returning.


Don’t: Overuse Stock Images

Stock images are intended to give your designs instant inspiration and energy, but they can also be distracting if you use them too often. 

This is why you have to find the right balance. If you keep adding more images to your design, you will easily get bogged down in trying to match the same style or color palette. This can cause your design and selected pictures to lose their impact. 

The solution is simple; learn specific rules for using stock images effectively and avoid implementing them as a last resort to fix every problem in your designs. 

Once you understand the use of stock photos, you’ll find that you’re not relying on them as the only source of inspiration for your design elements. Ultimately, this will ensure your website layout falls into place more naturally and easily.

Don’t: Forget the SEO

When crafting content for a website, you should keep in mind that search engines such as Google will index and evaluate it for its usefulness.

There are many ways to optimize your site for search engines. Adding keywords to the content and meta description is the most common way. But besides working on the text, it is essential to consider the images you use and optimize them to increase your site’s visibility in search engines. 

Some ways to optimize the pictures include:

  • Choose relevant pictures
  • Compress images so they load quickly
  • Change filenames to relevant terms instead of using the default ‘IMG8573.jpg’
  • Add alt text to provide context to the search engines and visually impaired users

Optimizing each image on your website for search engines is crucial in improving your search rankings and driving more traffic to your site. By carefully selecting images, you can increase your visibility and attract a larger audience.

Don’t: Compromise on the Quality

When using stock images for web design, you must ensure you get the highest quality images possible. High-quality images are an excellent way to elevate your site’s overall appearance and credibility. 

These images boast sharpness and clarity, allowing users to zoom in and closely examine them. This, in turn, facilitates a deeper understanding of your message and helps to establish your brand as authoritative.

Moreover, high-quality images exhibit a greater level of detail than lower-quality ones. As a result, they make it easier for users to read and interpret visual information, enhancing the overall user experience and making your content more accessible.

Always remember, there is no point in being a business that uses poor-quality, blurry, or grainy stock images on its site. You’ll end up looking like a non-professional and probably lose customers too.


A professional image should fit into your site’s design and enhance the user experience – not clash with the rest of the pages on your site.

Using stock photos is an efficient and cost-effective method to increase the visual appeal of your website. Plus, they are conveniently available, allowing marketers to easily source them without investing time and effort. 

Just remember that you need to be true to your site’s overall brand image. With some thought and effort, you can successfully integrate stock imagery into your current and future designs without losing your audience.

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