Using Royalty-Free Images On Your Website – Advantages & Disadvantages

Posted at April 20, 2017 at 7:00 pm by Stacey Talieres

When building a successful website, the standard of the images used is vitally important. Poor-quality photographs or graphics will not project a professional impression to most visitors, and your site’s performance will suffer because of it. Unfortunately, hiring the services of a graphic designer doesn’t come cheap, and if you’re on a limited budget, this clearly presents a problem.

Luckily, there exist many websites that offer archives of photographs, icons, buttons, and other graphics, many of which are free to download and use. Utilizing images from these sites has it’s drawbacks, but it does provide the following advantages.

Low Cost

You should spend some time searching for the right images. Some of them might require editing to suit your purpose, but this option is more affordable compared to hiring a graphic designer.

Broad Range

Almost any type of image you can think of will be available somewhere. You just need to take the time, and the patience to dredge through thousands of possibilities, many of which may be mediocre at best.

Can Inspire Ideas

As you scour the web for ideas, you may stumble across your own inspiration. Coming up with a concept for a graphic designer will limit results to your initial criteria, depending on the creativity and independence of the designer. However, something you see in a free image repository may spark a whole new direction of thought for creating your website.

High Quality

Most image repositories will set a minimum standard for entries they allow into their archives. While you may not be able to find a perfect fit in terms of content and style, the technical quality of the images will be at least acceptable.

 

However, there are significant drawbacks to bear in mind as well.

The Need to Compromise

Despite the vast range of choices, chances are you’re unlikely to find a file that’s 100 percent true to what you had in mind. You may have to forfeit your original requirements, unless you want to spend hours upon hours sifting through archives in hopes of the perfect match.

Brand Dilution

By nature, free public image archives don’t grant exclusive usage rights for their images. This means there is a chance the graphics you use will already been included on another website. While this isn’t necessarily a problem, if you use popular images, it’s harder to establish uniqueness and awareness for your brand.

Consistency

In some cases you can download groups of images that revolve around a theme. More often than not, you will probably have to take your graphics from several sources to cover all your needs. This makes visual consistency across your site difficult to achieve.

Future Limitations

A lack of consistency can pose a problem should you expand your site in the future. It especially may be difficult to find a new graphic that matches your existing selections. Sourcing a new free image will be time consuming, with hit-and-miss results.

For a fully polished look and feel, a website will always benefit from the use of unique photography and graphic design. However, for those just starting out, or otherwise are on a tight budget, the limitations presented by royalty-free stock images are relatively minor and can be overcome. If you’re prepared to put in the time searching through archives, free graphics offer a cost-effective way of putting together a professional-looking site.

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