Google has made a pretty hefty change to how its image search results appear and many internet users are enraged. If you’re a frequent user of Google’s Image search, then you’ve likely noticed that they recently removed the “View Image” button from search results. The button would allow you to view/download a full-size version of an image without having to visit the website where it’s published and view/download it from there.
Google’s change means people can no longer easily navigate to the picture they’d searched for or download it for later use. At least not as easily – if you don’t mind a couple of extra mouse clicks since you can always right-click the image in the image search results and choose ‘Open image in new tab’, or save the picture right there. There’s also, already, a browser extension for Chrome that you can install to get the button back. You can also use another search engine like Bing or Startpage to get a similiar experience. Problem solved.
Why did Google remove the “View Image” button?
Two years ago, Getty Images (they sell their photos) filed an antitrust complaint against Google, taking issue with the company’s image scraping techniques to display image search results. Earlier this week, Google and Getty Images announced a partnership and Getty withdrew its charges against Google. Clearly, the removal of direct image links were apparently part of the agreement, although Google also states they want searchers to connect with the website, not just their scraped image.
Making Getty happy has made the rest of the internet angry, and although searchers haven’t been shy about expressing their outrage about the change, tech-savvy developers haven’t been shy about remedying it with solutions. Adhering to copyright law is still the user’s responsibility, and millions of images on the internet including search results aren’t locked down under copyright law. And as long as you’re not passing the (image) work off as your own, or more seriously SELLING it, there’s typically no issues if you’re just looking for an image for your desktop wallpaper, Facebook cover photos, etc..
Website Application & The Use of Stock Photos
With over 250+ clients we do, as most web design and marketing firms, protect ourselves with a client agreement that any graphics, photos, or artwork furnished to us for their website are either 1) owned by them, 2) have permission from the rightful owner, or 3) it is labeled for reuse. But again, there are typically no issues as long as you’re not using another website’s assets or passing their work off as your own, and most important – selling it!
When hiring a web designer or graphic designer, don’t be afraid to ask the source of any photos or artwork that they provide. In terms of your website’s usability & overall user-experience (also known as UX) the artwork and photos deserve just as much attention, but they also need to be legal. Photos on any digital or print marketing campaign grab our attention and trigger an almost instantaneous response – and that includes your website and it’s visitors. The photos, especially on your homepage, play a big role in first impressions, confidence, & earning trust. Photos tell a story and they represent your brand.
Stock Photo Stereotypes
Honestly, we hate using the term “stock photos” when clients ask about us supplying images for their website. And although we always suggest using unique photos that represent their product & services, we also understand the need for crisp, high quality images for a good first impression and that not everyone can afford to hire a fancy photographer. Unfortunately, these 2 are typically not mutually exclusive. A client will either 1) have unique photographs of their product or services from a camera or smartphone but are low-resolution and lack professionalism, or a client will 2) just instruct us to use “stock photos” which are high resolution and professional. And the latter typically includes a stereotypical concern regarding “stock photos” – like these below:
One Size Does Not Fit All
There is nothing wrong with using “stock photos” as long as the photos are a good and accurate representation of your business and it’s brand, and align with the type of audience you’re targeting. Read more about Target Audiences » A perfect example is if you are a home builder and build homes that are typically $500,000+. Your target audience wouldn’t appeal to the stock photo above (with the contractor, alone in a framed house, holding plans). But every industry is different and presents it’s own challenges with the use of stock photos. Another example is if you are a family doctor with a local practice; the stock photo above, (with the doctor in a white coat crossing his arms) is an absolute no-no, mainly because research has shown that potential patients want to see “who and where” before they commit to making an appointment. This desire in potential patients only increases in different medical fields. Think about it – a podiatrist and a proctologist…which of the two physicians would you be more likely to concern yourself with wanting to at the very least see a photo of the doctor and the office before making an appointment?
Stock Photos & Selling Products
If you sell a tangible product instead of a service, you want the item to be visually represented vividly and with detail. This is because when an image of a product is vivid and detailed, it increases the shopper’s perceived ownership of the product. Think about the last time you went by a McDonalds and saw that high resolution, crisp, detailed photo of a hamburger that you KNOW damn well won’t look like that in the bag – and yet, you still want it. The photo elicits a response, and the same applies to website marketing. If you sell a unique product and advertise it on your website, I will always suggest just making the investment in hiring a reputable photographer. Professional photos will also be high-quality and large, which will afford you the opportunity to display your product images with interactive features like zooming in to see detail. The right lighting, angle and backdrop to this is necessary to achieve the right results.
More on Customer Perception
If you’re worried about your potential customers seeing a stock photo that they may have seen countless times before, you can always use a reverse image search engine to see how many other websites are using the same stock photo. But remember, the accuracy of the results are contingent upon a variety of factors like a website’s indexing/crawling rules, image cropping, etc.. Luckily, if you hire the right web designer he will have all the right answers and use all the right photos for your particular industry and your unique brand.
People scan screens (both mobile & desktop) based on past experience and their expectations. The top left of a website is the most common starting point for a website visitor’s eyes. If you’re using a large photo on the page it will immediately grab their attention and pull them away from their usual tendency. This is a good thing. Other than demanding attention, there are more fundamental aspects of a photo that need to be evaluated, which include quality, composition and exposure. Just remember to always treat a website photo as you would other website content. If you have grainy, unprofessional iPhone photos of a particular service you provide (i.e., a carpet cleaner’s before/after photos) that’s fine – there are many useful places for those. Just not the top center area of your homepage. Remember, first impressions are everything. If your “first impression” photos look outdated and unprofessional, they will likely think the service you provide is too.
The vast majority of marketing experts aren’t psychologists, but many successful marketing experts regularly employ psychology in attracting, engaging and converting their target audience, and photos play a big role in that!