Study Confirms What Fusionbox Already Knows About Stock Photography

Denver Web Design at Fusionbox | Justin Stollsteimer Posted by Justini on November 2, 2010
Denver SEO, Denver web design, stock photos, web design

Fusionbox, a Denver web design firm, has long held the opinion that website imagery is only useful if it's relevant. A simple paradigm, sure – perhaps even words to live by – but in the world of design, it can be difficult to determine what's informative and what isn't.

Jakob Nielsen of useit.com has often followed Fusionbox's lead* and ranted against the use of “filler” imagery, and his most recent eye-tracking study backs up his claim.

I saw a nice image of some baby eagles on iStock; let's just use that.

Fusionbox has always advocated the use of “real” photography: pictures of your employees, your office, your projects. Using non-stock photography strengthens the connection between your user and your business; a connection that is absolutely essential to a successful website.

Okay, so I should take a picture of my cat, Miss Hammy, and use that, right?

A common sentiment, but alas, no. Relevance still matters. Even if your photography contains actual employees, students, or pets, irrelevant photos are useless – and they're going to be ignored. In Nielsen's study, a photo of Yale students was completely overlooked – even though they're probably real students – because the image had nothing to do with the content on the page.

But people love cats!

On a cat adoption site, yes. On ICanHasCheezburger.com, yes. As a sidebar to your home-stitched tea cozy website? No.

In part one of Nielsen's study, users spent 10% more time looking at employee portrait photos versus reading the biography text. Users wanted to get a quick overview of the team, and the images assisted them in doing so. “The key point is that these are real people who actually work at the company. In contrast, users ignore stock photos of 'generic people'.”

Product Images

Shopping sites aren't immune to filler imagery, either. A product photo isn't automatically informative.

Nielsen's study compares two product listings: one page of bookcases, another of televisions. The bookcase thumbnails were carefully scrutinized, whereas the television images were largely ignored and their text descriptions received attention.

That's silly. They're both full of product photos!

Yes, but while the bookcase images showed differences in visual detail, the television images essentially all look the same – except for the superimposed stock photography showing “what's on.” These filler images don't assist the user in making a decision, and thus, they rely on the textual details.

“The difference between these 2 screenshots is obvious: the TV photos are of no help in deciding between the products. A guy in a canoe vs. a football player? What, because I watch more football than watersports, I'll buy the TV showing a football player?”

You said it, Jakob.

Fusionbox has always urged its clients to use personal, communicative imagery on their websites; filler images only distract the user by cluttering the page. Now, if we could just do a study on Comic Sans...

TL;DR: Stock photos are ignored by most users. Fusionbox said it, Jakob Nielsen proved it.

*This is not true, but we'd like to think it is.

Posted in: Denver SEO, Denver Web Design, Denver Web Development

2 responses to "Study Confirms What Fusionbox Already Knows About Stock Photography"

WebSight Designs (11/3/2010 @ 5:08pm)

I've also heard rumors that Google's search algorithm places higher ranking on original images, so using original photos not only draws the attention of the eye but can help with SEO to some degree as well.

Paula (11/3/2010 @ 2:38pm)

This is funny post but speaks truth! I like the "Comic Sans" link.

Leave a Comment

Name: *

Email: *

URL:

Message: *

CONTACT US Got a comment? Want a quote?
Email or call 303.952.7490

Denver Web Design | Search Blog

Search Blog

Denver Web Design and Development | Blog Archives

Archive

Denver Interactive Agency | Blog Categories

Categories

Denver Website Design | Blog Tags

Tags

Ad Extensions AdWords agile agile marketing awards B2B Internet Marketing Binary Blogging Branding careers content development conversion optimization database denver advertising agency Denver computer programming Denver Interactive Agencies Denver Interactive Agency Denver Internet Marketing Denver Internet Marketing advice denver non profit marketing denver ppc denver ppc advertising denver programming denver programming jobs Denver search engine marketing Denver Search Engine Optimization Denver SEO denver seo agency Denver SEO intern denver social media Denver social media marketing Denver Software Development Denver Usability Denver usability consulting Denver web design Denver web designer Denver Web Development denver web sites Denver website design denver website development Django 1.5 facebook Favorite Restaurants Fusionbox Fusionbox food Fusionbox Framework google grants Google rankings HTML pages information architecture Internet Marketing JavaScript jobs keyword research KidsTek link building linkbuilding mobile web applications Non Profit Marketing online reputation management Pay per Click PDF pages PHP development post launch checklist PPC pre launch checklist Programming Project Management pubcon Python jobs reputation management Restaurant week 2013 Ruby jobs search engine optimization SEO SEO advice seo-friendly urls social media advice Social Media Marketing Social Media Marketing for Credit Unions social media sharing SQL stock photos TextMate Top B2B Interactive Agencies web design web designer in Denver Web Development web development jobs WORM