The other day a few of our photographer friends started passing around a New York Times blog written by Nick Bilton from 2010 that happened to land in our newsfeed. Entitled, “Study Shows People Ignore Generic Photos Online,” the piece dissects eye-tracking research offered up by consultant and author Jakob Nielsen that says (as the headline proclaims) generic, sometimes called stock, photography is worthless to those who want users to interact with their site. This is especially true when it comes to selling products online.
The team here at Buzz Mouth certainly agrees with these findings, as we advocate for original photography as much as possible. And while Nielsen’s research puts the hard numbers behind this school of though, here are a few tips to keep in mind when investing in high-quality images for your brand:
Show, don’t tell. We’re not exactly going on a limb here when we say that we live in a visual society and the internet is becoming a photo- and image-heavy medium more and more. Your website is your business card for any potential customers, and with so many sites, products and businesses out there, and an easy way to stand out from the pack is to have great photos. Just don’t overdo it; a handful of great shots with your product in action will go much further than 100 generic ones of on item on a white background.
Capture the product in use. If you’re a yogurt shop, so people eating yogurt or adding toppings. If you’re a high-end furniture company, decorate a room around your pieces and shoot that. If you’re a car repair shop, show your mechanics working on a car and interacting with customers. Be genuine with the imagery you put out there and portray an accurate customer experience. (And if your yogurt doesn’t look delicious or you think your car repair shop is too dirty to put on your site – well, then that should tell you something.)
Do it right. Yes, anyone can purchase a high-resolution camera nowadays and start clicking away. However, finding the right professional photographer and having them apply their skills can be a huge boon to your brand – they might even revitalize your look or attract a whole new kind of customer. Beyond having a trained eye, many photographers today are experts in post-production software like Photoshop, a program that can often swallow hours of time if you’re a laymen.
Yes, stock imagery is an easy, convenient way to get some kind photography on your site. But, as Nielsen’s research shows, it won’t provide any benefit to you or your brand. Original photography will, and the potential benefits far outweigh the cost investment.
And, honestly, wouldn’t you rather be focused on making your yogurt (or car repair or furniture) the best in the business than spending hours trying to shoot and edit a few photos?
Read the New York Times blog here.