Study: Real Photos Better Than Stock Photos

Marketing Experiments BlogThis Just Tested: Stock images or real people?

So what were the results? Well, Mrs. Generic finally met her match. It appears that an attractive smile is not a match for a good name. Overall, the familiarity hypothesis held some water. When the recognizable image of the founder was used, visitors were 35 % more likely to sign up for a free consultation. Remember, this is a 35% lift on top of many other previous gains in the testing-optimization cycle.

I was having a conversation with a friend who also works on websites just yesterday about how much we hate sites with generic, stock photos of people in offices. Nothing says “cheap, generic website like a photo of people in business clothes working on computers.

My friend told a funny story about his friend in the web design business who goes one step further. He takes a stock photo of an office building and Photoshops the business’s name on the side, even if they only have a couple of employees. Like no one will ever notice when they actually visit the business.

Stock photos are okay. Places like iStock.com make it easy to customize the look of a site with quality photographs for a few dollars. I have a client right now who does business locally rather than nationally, so I’m using stock photos of local landmarks so that visitors instantly know he’s local to them. It’s just the generic photos of smiling people that make a website look generic and insincere.