5 Alternatives to Stock Photos

5 Alternatives to Stock Photos

I did an article on my personal blog citing the decline and perils of stock photography but I got a few questions regarding the alternatives to Stock Photos. I thought I will share some alternatives on howtomakewebsite.ws

Why use an image in your post.

A lot of SEO gurus recommend using an image on your pages and posts to increase & perhaps extend the user engagement on your website. It gives your visitors an idea of what your content comprises of by painting a very quick picture encouraging them to stay on the page with an objective already painted in their mind. Some authors prefer not using a picture at all because they believe that the use of a picture might limit or impact the imagination of their audience.

All of us (who like to have an image on all pages) must have come across that situation where we do not have an image to go with our post. I have seen my ex-colleagues and friends instinctively go and buy it from stock photo websites. Not only is it an unnecessary added cost but this option is boring and off putting as hell. I have covered the perils of stock photos in this post on my personal blog. Here are a few alternatives to stock photos that are free, 100% original and might brighten up your post a little bit more than stock photos.

1. Charts

If your post contains some data why not create a visual representation of this data in forms of charts.

A visualization of my site’s referrals created using pages software on Mac

There are a lot of software that help you visualize your data beautifully. Some of them are:

  1. Microsoft Excel
  2. Pages (iWork)
  3. Open Office
  4. Adobe Photoshop
  5. Adobe Illustrator

There are a lot of other options that you can find and you can use whatever floats your boat.

2. GIFs

GIFs are becoming increasingly popular these days. Matt posted an article an article few days ago with a very self-explanatory featured image GIF. You can use one of the free online GIF maker website or a desktop software like Photoshop to create a GIF out of a video clip.

3. Quotes or Typography

I suggest quotes as an option for people who can’t think of anything to attach to their posts. In some cases authors are faced with the problem where they do not want to limit or impact their readers’ imagination. Excerpts out of the post in some cool fonts are a very good option. They are easy to share on Social media and people like to share influential quotes benefiting your website’s overall health.

4. Hand Drawn Characters and Artwork

If you’ve got a good hand, why not share your drawings with your readers. Hand drawn characters give your blog a personal touch and you get to show your true emotions. If you are a story teller and find it hard to paint a picture by your words this is a very good option. You can use a drawing app on your tablet or a professional tablet by wacom.

5. Self Shot Photos

Self Shot photos are always a very good option for posts discussing real life events but you can also use them as a replacement for stock photos. If you are a local business that is located on the beach area, you can step out anytime and take some shots of photos of the beach and use them on your website. Not only does this provide a personal unique touch to your posts but is also very appealing to the locals.

I would love to see your ideas on alternatives to Stock Photos so feel free to share them in the comment section below.

Importance of Responsive Web Design

web design

Responsive Web Design is an approach where the designer and developer consider the user experience across all screen widths. This includes smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktop computers and big televisions that can connect to the internet. You can test the ‘responsiveness’ of a page you like by reducing the window size as shown above. A study published on Mashable has already predicted that by 2015, the mobile usage will exceed desktop usage making it extremely important for you to take care of your mobile users.

You can make your website mobile friendly in three (that I can think of) different ways.

A> Having a separate website: like m.example.com for mobile users where your mobile content is hosted and serving a more mobile friendly content from this url. Your data stays synchronized as you connect both desktop and mobile websites to the same database.

B> User agent detection: this technique lets you serve a different theme for your mobile users. All urls stay the same but different html is served to different devices.

C> Responsive Web Design: serves the same html to all users with from same url but this content can respond when the screen size changes.

Responsive Web Design is the most advocated technique of handling mobile friendliness since it requires the least effort in maintenance and is most SEO friendly. If you think about it, hosting a separate mobile site: m.example.com practically means that you have to optimize and keep an eye on the health of two websites. First two techniques I have mentioned above also require you to have a very good user agent detection mechanism in place and unfortunately, the variety of devices being produced is only going to increase. Smartphones, dumb phones, tablets, laptops, desktops and smart televisions. There’s no limit to the amount of agents that are going to be accessing your page.

Things to consider while creating a responsive website (or choosing a responsive theme).
Responsive websites are pretty low maintenance but there are a few things that you should be careful about when you are choosing a theme for your website. I have listed two of the most critical factors to help you when you are choosing from a big selection of themes.

A> Responsiveness on different devices – This involves extensive testing on all devices. If you have hired a developer to build a theme, make sure you build it considering mobile and tablet platforms before you go towards the desktop and laptops. If you are buying a theme, load the theme demo on mobile devices and see how user friendly it is.

B> Pageload time – Speed is a very important factor these days from crawlers’ point of view. Most of the Search Engines will prioritize another page that offers similar services but loads quicker. Fortunately, you can test the speed of your theme (demo url) using tools like pingdom, GTMetrix and Google’s pagespeed insights. Google pagespeed insights also suggests the measures that you can take to increase the pagespeed of your website.

I do not like themes with a lot of features. Main reason being, all of those scripts load on all pages of your website. Even if it is a small page with very less content. Most of the times you won’t even use all those fancy features. I prefer lightweight themes instead. These themes load with a lightning fast speed and make sure that your visitors’ stay on the site is not a painful one. If you have any concerns or questions, I would be pleased to address them in the comment section below.

Feel free to share your favorite responsive websites and themes in the comment sections below.