While the words that are present in your website copy are ultimately responsible for most of the content that gets indexed by Google and sought by seekers, the graphics are equally important for human visitors. In other words, the “meat” of your website might be what is written there, but the “magnets” are the graphics:– photographs, icons, diagrams, background videos, and illustrations. This document deals with how you might find and acquire those lovely pieces of artwork.
The first impressions of visitors to your new website will be more impacted by the graphic elements they see there. This is why having sharp, clear, illustrative graphics scattered about your site is so important. Poor graphics turn people off from the start. They make your website (and by extension, your business or organization) seem amateurish and not very well thought-out. They might think, ‘If they can’t even show nice pictures and clear graphics explaining their what they do, where else have they cut corners?’
You might be starting out in business and don’t have any pictures amassed yet. It might be that you’ve been around for awhile, but none of the photos you’ve taken of your operation look all that good or professional. Good photographs that have actually been taken at your business and are of the people working within it need to be captured by a professional photographer – and they cost money. So, what do you do on a limited budget?
Fortunately, there is a whole world out there of online stock photography and graphics. There are literally millions of high-quality images, colourful graphics, whimsical icons, background videos, and lovely illustrations available to be used on your website. Some of these require some discernment; if you do tree maintenance in Edmonton, you don’t want a picture of someone trimming a palm tree!
If nothing else, stock photographs and graphics will act as excellent placeholders in your new website until you have the time and money to hire a professional photographer or graphic designer. Good quality graphics – even if they’re canned – are ultimately superior to something that’s of poor quality, because everything that’s on your website is going to be judged by its visitors. If they see pictures that look like snapshots taken on a smartphone, with darkened faces and irregular shadows and odd colours, then that’s the impression you’re going to leave on prospective customers.
How You’re Not Going to Get Website Graphics
Ever used Google’s image finder? Just go here, put in a search term (e.g. hummingbird) and you’ll end up with hundreds or even thousands of photos and graphics – some of them really quite nice – all available for download with a few mouse clicks! But you’re not going to download them. Ever. If you grab one of them and we use it on your website, chances are very high that we’ve broken a copyright law. We’ve appropriated somebody else’s work and most people don’t like it when their stuff gets stolen! When you’re using it in a for-profit business, that just adds insult to injury, let alone the fact that you can be sued – quite easily and successfully, in fact! It’s just not ethical.
You shouldn’t, but if you need another good reason to not pilfer some graphics online, here’s another: Go to the Google image finder and click on the little camera icon. That leads you to a spot where you can indicate an image that you want Google to search for exact or close copies of. It’s spooky just how good Google is at doing this! So, if you were the owner of an image that you thought people had pinched and were using improperly, you could easily find every copy of that picture in a few seconds – and know the exact website page where the image was displayed! Like shooting fish in a barrel, eh?
How You Are Going to Get Website Graphics
With that other method put immediately to bed, you have two alternatives here for quickly getting yourself some quality graphics:
- Find something suitable on a website that provides free images and graphics and use them, or
- Opt for finding something that’s at least equally suitable – and probably superior – from a paid-for service.
I know you now think I’m leading you into something expensive — but bear with me, okay?
Free Photographs, Graphics, Icons, and Illustrations
God bless the photographers and designers out there that have allowed their work to be placed on websites from which they can be downloaded for free. Whether they’re doing it for good karma or a slight ego boost or whatever, all of these people are very gracious. Most are even going to give away their work for not even a mention, although some free graphics sites insist that you give credit to the creator of the artwork on the page where it’s shown.
The biggest disadvantages that I’ve found with the resources acquired from these sites are:
- You may not find the exact thing you want, especially if you need to be specific or are picky.
- Crediting people for giving away their work is an honourable thing, but it takes away some of your website focus and can cheapen your image (although I’ll admit that, in some circumstances, it could enhance it).
- Because the images are free, there will be a lot more websites using them. Imagine the horror of one day seeing the same primary photo you use on the header of your website’s home page on that of a competitor!
You can search Google for “free photographs” or “free graphics” and find dozens of sites that’ll provide them, but I’ve found these to be the best:
Reasonably-Priced Photographs, Graphics, Icons, and Illustrations
Getty Images is the king of the paid-for photograph – but I’d only recommend them if you really want a one-of-a-kind photograph or just can’t find anything on any of the other sites I’m recommending. In the end, if the perfect photo from Getty costs you $400 that’s still less than hiring a professional photographer for a couple of hours!
The reasons for acquiring assets from these sources are, essentially, for the opposite reasons for getting the freebies:
- The catalogues of available images are more vast and you’re probably more likely to find something on one of these sites that’s either perfect or better-suited to your needs.
- You don’t need to give credit to anyone for creating the photo or artwork (unless you want to!).
- The chances of seeing any of these images on another website is substantially less than from a free resource.
These are my faves:
You can set up an account at any of these sites and pay for the photos and graphics yourself, passing them along to me.
Alternatively – and greatly to your benefit – I have purchased bulk purchasing deals with both depositphotos and yayimages. Literally any graphic you find there I can purchase and use on your behalf and it’ll only cost you $10 each.
What Do You Do If You Find Some Suitable Graphics?
If you’ve opted to acquire the images yourself, then please download and pass along the highest-resolution versions possible to me. I’ll then do my thing with optimizing them for your website.
If you’ve found one or more images on a free or paid-for site, please let me know which website you saw them on and what image or catalogue number they had. Pretty well every photo and graphics website identifies each of their images with a unique code or number. You often have to choose the image and then spot the code from the image’s description. Alternately, copy and pass along to me the entire description of the photo or its title, usually shown at the top of the screen.
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