Trends & Ideas For Using Beautiful Imagery on The Web

We show you ten different ways you can use beautiful and authentic stock photography to make your web business stand out from the rest.

Looking to craft a beautiful, stylish website? Of course you are! And, as you probably already know by now, images are an integral part of any website’s design.

Why are images so important? Well, even though content is king, it’s your images that instantly jump off the page. They make your website easy on the eye, they show the world what your business is all about, and they form a big part of your site’s overall first impression.

Want more? Well, studies have also shown that images can have a big impact on your bottom line, too — conversion rates can be impacted significantly by making subtle (or radical) changes to the images in use.

As such, images are kind of a big deal. And, for me at least, if you want professional looking images, you should look no further than high-quality stock photography.

This is because stock photography gives your average site owner access to a wider range of high-quality images – in terms of the photo’s subject, composition, and resolution – than would otherwise be available.

Today, however, I’m not here to talk about the benefits of using stock photography. I’m here to show you ten different ways you can use authentic stock photography on your website. Let’s get started.

1. Image Sliders

An image slider linking to your inner pages is one of the best ways to improve on-site navigation. And, because an image slider sits at the top of the homepage, it’s also one of your site’s most prominent visual elements and an important component of your website’s overall design.

As such, you don’t want just any old images cluttering up your image slider. Make sure your slider is filled with top quality stock photographs so that you create the best possible first impression.

Stock Image Source: Traveler by kitzstocker

Of course, it’s impossible for me to display a screenshot demonstrating a moving slider — why not check out the demo of the Dynamix theme instead, to see just how good image sliders can look in action.

2. Featured Images

In my opinion, not enough websites take full advantage of their posts’ featured images. I’m talking about the big, booming, visually stunning hero images that dominate the top of the page, set the right tone for the post, and create an instantly memorable impression on visitors.

Stock Image Source: Church on the island in mist at sunrise by dreamypixel
Stock Image Source: Church on the island in mist at sunrise by dreamypixel

In my opinion, more websites should be making their hero images the focal point of the site. It’s a great way to give your blog an instantly recognizable style, which visitors will recognize as synonymous with your brand.

Of course, by making your featured images so integral, you need to choose the right images. Breathtaking, high-resolution images are the order of the day, and, unless you’re a photographer using your own images, nothing beats the quality and range of stock images.

Oh, and if you do decide to use stunning featured images, you can also create beautiful content grids from them that look something like this:

Featured Image Grid

3. Header Images

If you’re looking to create an unbeatable first impression, pay close attention to the design of your website above the fold – after all, this is the part of your website that visitors will see first.

Displaying beautiful stock photography is a tried-and-tested way to create that golden first impression you’re looking for. By displaying a professional-grade photograph, you instantly look the part – credible, professional, and authoritative. X Theme has a gorgeous example of a header image.

Stock Image Source: Senior Craftsman by halfpoint
Stock Image Source: Senior Craftsman by halfpoint

It also gives the visitor an insight into your brand and what you’re all about – and with literally thousands of stock photos out there, it isn’t hard to find the right fit.

4. Fullscreen Background Image

If you want to add some color to your pages, nothing beats a good fullscreen background image. Not only does a huge background image make your site look instantly stylish, but choosing the right image can set the right tone and really enhance your brand – creative images for creatives, professional images for professionals, etc.

Stock Image Source: Bokeh by DHIN3Z
Stock Image Source: Bokeh by DHIN3Z

When you choose a fullscreen background image, resolution is important. If the image is too small it will look pixelated (which creates a hideous first impression), and tiling the background image belongs in the ’90s.

Fortunately, stock images come in the super-sized dimensions that make them well-suited to fullscreen backgrounds.

Another key advantage: changing your background image is a great way to mark key holidays, reflect the changing seasons, and just generally give your website a spruce up.

Want to see a great example of a fullscreen background image in action? Here you go then; another screenshot courtesy of X Theme.

Fullscreen Background

5. Within Content

Most people read blog posts primarily as a form of entertainment — they don’t want to feel like they’re back at school, reading a textbook. As such, you need to make your blog visually engaging.

Stock Image Source: Springbok in dust by JohanSwanepoel
Stock Image Source: Springbok in dust by JohanSwanepoel

And let’s face it, beautiful images are far easier on the eye than a screen full of text, right?

6. Parallax Scrolling

If you want your website etched in the minds of those who visit, you need to give visitors a reason to remember you. Great content is a part of this, of course, but don’t understate the importance of your site’s design — slick, eye-catching visual elements are a sure-fire way to impress visitors.

One of my favorite visual effects is parallax scrolling. Unfortunately, because of the moving parts I can’t demonstrate parallax with a screenshot, so here is a link to some great examples of websites using parallax. And, if you want a great WordPress theme that supports parallax scrolling, look no further than the excellent Brooklyn theme.

7. Social Images

We all know the benefits of social media by now, right? Good, so I’m guessing that you’d love to drive more traffic to your website via the social channels, too?

If you want more social clicks, you have to make your content as enticing as possible. This is how one of Envato Market’s blog posts appear on Twitter:

Social Media Images

As you can see, the post consists of two main elements. First, the text, which is undoubtedly important as it helps people decide whether the content is of interest to them.

Far more eye-catchingly, however, is the image, which dominates the social media post. Get the image part right by using stylish stock images and you can instantly experience an uplift in shares and clicks.

8. Adverts

Adverts are one of the most effective ways to drive traffic to your desired locations – this could be to your product pages, an advertiser’s website, or a website you have an affiliate relationship with.

Stock Image Source: Barber Shop by Nejron
Stock Image Source: Barber Shop by Nejron

Of course, for maximum effectiveness, your adverts need to be eye-catching and enticing – in other words, bold, bright, and beautiful. One of the best ways to create stylish, clickable adverts is to place a stock image as a background, then overlay this with compelling copy.

9. Infographics

An infographic is a visual representation of complex data, created with a primary aim of being shared and going viral. This is achieved in three main ways:

  1. Making the content super-informative.
  2. Presenting data in a way that’s easily digestible.
  3. By making the infographic aesthetically pleasing.

Although more commonly associated with vectors, you can also build infographics on top of stunning background images. And, because infographics need to be visually top-notch, if you are going to use a background image, look no further than a relevant, high-resolution stock photograph.

Here’s a great example of a stock image being used in an infographic, courtesy of FFunction.

Stock Image Infographics

10. eBooks

I’m sure you’ve heard it a thousand times: the money is in the list.

For over a decade, internet marketers have given top priority to growing an email list full of qualified subscribers. Intent is the easy part, though; getting visitors to hand over their email addresses is the hard part.

As a result, a lot of well-respected bloggers have talked about the best ways to optimize a website for conversions. One of the best-known strategies is to offer a sign-up incentive – the visitor receives something of value in exchange for their email address.

Stock Image Source: Top view of laptop and girl by happydancing
Stock Image Source: Top view of laptop and girl by happydancing

One of the most popular list-building incentives is the eBook. For this to work, though, you need a well-designed cover. These days, many marketers are using stock photographers for their eBook covers – it’s one of the easiest ways to craft a beautiful cover that oozes credibility, but without breaking the bank.

If you’re looking for a great way to make your website stand out from all the noise, using high quality and authentic stock photography can have such a big impact. And, as today’s post goes to show, there are lots of different ways you can use stock photography to enhance your website.

About the Author Shaun Quarton

Shaun Quarton is a freelance blogger from the UK, with a passion for online entrepreneurship, content marketing, and all things WordPress.