Why Too Much Stock Photography on Your Site Can Be a Trust Killer

Image of Scott Baradell
Scott Baradell

Have you ever visited the website for a physician's practice or healthtech company and come face to face with a homepage hero image that looks like this?

stock photo as trust killer nurse

What exactly have we learned from this image -- arguably the single most viewed element of your entire website?

Nada.

Zip.

Zilch.

Diddly-squat.

Why on earth would you waste the most important real estate on your website on a generic stock image that literally any other healthcare company could also download from Shutterstock and use on their site as well?

It's the worst possible way to set yourself apart -- and also the worst way to establish trust.

When people come to your website, they want to learn about you -- in words and pictures:

  • They want to see photos of your team.
  • They want to see videos of your product or service in action.
  • The want to see your offices and facilities.
  • They want to see detailed testimonials accompanied by the smiling faces of actual happy customers. 

All of this imagery helps to tell your unique story. It also communicates that your visitors are not just coming to a nameless, faceless website. They are visiting your online home to learn who you are.

Authentic imagery also improves e-commerce sales. A 2019 Cornell Tech study found that on secondhand marketplaces like eBay, sellers who post their own high-quality images of products are trusted far more than those who post either stock photos of those same products or poor-quality photos. Because online visitors can’t see and touch your product in the real world, custom imagery fills a critical gap in building trust. 

That’s not to say that stock photos don’t serve a purpose. It makes sense to use them when it would be simply too difficult or expensive to use custom photography.  A frequently updated blog, for example, will typically need to rely on stock photography. Even some of the most popular news sites in the world use stock photography to illustrate their content for this very reason.

But the most important images on your site -- those on your homepage, your "About Us" page, your "Team" page and your product pages -- should focus on you, not the latest pics on Shutterstock.

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