• Our love-hate relationship with stock photography

    Our love-hate relationship with stock photography

    Every day you come across hundreds of examples of stock photography. If you live in London you most likely come across it a lot more. Stock imagery is used everywhere for marketing material, websites, social media and outdoor advertising. Designers rely on it all the time to break up text, clarify a point and keep readers intrigued.

    So what is stock photography exactly?

    Stock photography are professional photographs that are sold on a royalty-free basis and can be used and reused for commercial purposes.

    Why we sometimes love it
    People are naturally visual creatures, and using photography and images in online and offline marketing is essential.
    Most clients don’t have good enough quality images for their marketing material. And most don’t have the resources to hire a photographer. In these cases, stock photography is the answer.
    Nowadays there is a vast array of cheap and sometimes free stock photography to choose from on the internet, easily available with a one-click download.

    Everyone does it- and that’s part of the problem
    Lat week a client realised the photo we had used on their website previously is now the image plastered across all East Midlands trains. Slightly awkward.

    Stock photos are free for anyone to use, with no exclusivities. This means any stock image you use to represent your business can also be used by anyone else. You have no control over it.

    The cheesy stock photography cliché
    How many times have you seen a cheesy photo of business men shaking hands and smiling unnaturally?
    Photographers that contribute to stock photography try to submit photos that will be used by as many people as possible. As a result, stock photography is often very predictable.
    Audiences can see right through this, and don’t connect with these cringy images.

    It creates design limitation
    A designer wants to be as original and creative as possible, and wants to create a website or marketing material which is unique to your brand.
    However the stock photos were not taken with your brand in mind, and do not accurately represent your products or services. This in turn hinders the authenticity of the designs.

    People want to see authentic, emotional photos
    In an ideal world, we would get our Art Director Natalie (who is also a photographer) to take photos for our clients as she is the person who knows and understands the brands the best.
    However, as we mentioned previously, sometimes client budget prohibits this.

    So when stock imagery is necessary here are our top tips for choosing the best of the best.

    Think about the message
    It’s easy to get distracted when looking for stock photography, and forgetting what your initial message is. Stick to photos which are consistent with the message, tone and colour palettes of your design.
    Go for images that are more relatable. If you are advertising to the corporate world, keep your photos sleek and professional. If you are catering to the older generation, make sure your photos resonate with that specific target audience. This will let them feel like the content was produced for them, and consequentially they will relate to it better.
    While it might take longer to find the perfect images to compliment your brand, once you do it’ll all be worthwhile.

    Look for the more realistic images
    Sounds obvious. Choose a photo in a realistic setting, with models that don’t look out of place. Try and avoid the cliché options.
    If you are looking for a holiday-themed image, don’t go for the typical white sand and palm tree beach- instead try and find an image with humans enjoying themselves (without it looking too staged!).

    Don’t overdo it
    Audiences can tell when a stock photo is chosen for the sake of having a placeholder image versus a contextual placement. Don’t start downloading and adding any image that “will do”. Only add stock imagery when needed otherwise your audience will end up getting bored.
    Think about whether you really need an image in that space? Is it distracting from the content?
    If you can try and mix it with some of your own content- to keep your brand feeling more genuine.

    And finally, make sure you are using them legally

    Make sure you are using proper stock photography, and don’t end up being sued.
    Some licenses allow you complete freedom, whereas others limit you to non-commercial use only. A reputable site will clearly indicate your rights. If in doubt don’t use it.

    While stock photography does get a bad name, it is also very valuable to small businesses and designer. As long as you use it properly there is no reason to avoid it.

    Photo credits to Kuan Fang. Photo from Splash.

  • Helping raise awareness of the LGBT community in Chesterfield

    Helping raise awareness of the LGBT community in Chesterfield

    Last week we got a knock at the door from a group of students asking for some design help.

    They were participating in the National Citizen Service (NCS), a government funded program encouraging young people to take part in social action projects.

    This group of students, called Team Unison, were challenged with promoting the LGBT community in Chesterfield.

    We were impressed with their initiative to ask a local business for help, and we were intrigued by their project, so we invited them in for a chat to find out how we could help.

    Before coming to us they had already raised enough to buy a rainbow coloured bench for Queens Park to represent the LGBT community. As a next step they wanted a logo designed to go on their social media pages and on their posters- to make the project look more professional.

    To start with, as we do with every new client, we wanted to understand the full scope of the project before working on it. We asked them the following questions to understand the scope of the project;

    What was the logo going to be used for?

    They wanted a logo for their social media pages and to go on posters.

    What was it going to represent?

    Spreading the word of the LGBT community in Chesterfield

    They came up with the idea of the paintbrush- representing “spreading” the word and “painting the rainbow”

    The rainbow U stands for the U of Team Unison- their group name

    The rainbow colours are the colours of the LGBT community

    What was the aim of the poster?

    Their idea was to hang up posters around Chesterfield to promote their project, and to unite the LGBT community.

    Initially they wanted the poster to just be a big image of the logo. However, we thought that the message would not be clear enough.

    The poster would need some wording to get the message across. We came up with a simple but effective phrase “Helping raise awareness of the LGBT community”.

    What was the call to action on the poster going to be?

    The poster also needed a call to action, to lead people to somewhere. Team Unison already had social media profiles, so we settled on the call to action leading to their Facebook and Instagram pages.

    We offered to design the logo and poster free of charge. For Crush this was only a few hours of our time, but it made a big difference to Team Unison’s project.

    As soon as we sent over the final designs we got this response which made us smile:

    “WE LOVE IT!  It’s amazing our whole team absolutely love it! We are very grateful for supporting us on this project.”

    Crush love to give back to the Chesterfield community- and this was a perfect opportunity!

    To find out more about the project check out Team Unison on Facebook and Instagram:

    Have you spotted the poster around Chesterfield?

  • The holiday season upon us!

    The holiday season upon us!

    Hurrah, its the summer holidays!

    The kids are off school for 6 weeks and the Western world slows down a little.

    Not a bad thing in my book. One or two weeks off to enjoy being a family, enjoy it guys!

    Happy holidays 🙂

    Though spare a thought for those that will actually be working even harder so their colleagues can go away.

    And what a nice photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash. Always loving good photography.

  • The best way to tender a website and find the right agency partnership

    I have always hated tendering and have made a conscious decision for Crush Design to reject the vast majority of invitations to do so.

    As a client surely this should be a worry if you are planning to tender out your website project.

    Crush Design is a highly reputable agency with an excellent client base and track record in delivering market leading websites. We could be the perfect agency but by tendering your project you automatically exclude us from the process. And I know that we are one of many high quality agencies that will not tender.

    This begs two questions;

    1. Why don’t we tender

    Tenders really only help you find agencies that are good at tendering (which we are not)
    Tenders favour those good at selling (which we are not)
    Tenders remove any opportunity to test and build trust with your future agency as everything is done at arms length (trust and partnership is key to our service)

    All this means that clients that tender their projects are likely to end up with an anonymous agency they don’t know much about, who are very convincing, bureaucratic or both.

    2. How do you go about finding the right agency?

    The first problem with tenders is that they are usually written by someone with no experience of planning and/or building websites.
    The second problem with tenders is that they are usually judged by people with no experience of planning and/or building websites.
    The third problem with tenders is that, in helping you select the wrong agency, they are a huge drain on resource for both sides (writing proposals is incredibly time consuming as is reading them all)

    Compound these problem with the probability that the tender is the basis for signing over a big project with a brand new supplier and you may be able to understand my reservation.

    Can I ask that we stop this farcical process and try this.

    Do your homework first and identify just two agencies to focus on. Decide by their reputation, quality of work, list of clients, and any other desktop means of research. Give them an initial telephone call, explain the overview of the project and judge them by their response.

    By putting in this effort and focusing on just two you will both save everyone a lot of time and endear yourself to the agencies in question

    Once you are happy with the two agencies engage with both of them to help you write your website brief / specification. My advice is offer them a consultancy budget, need only be small but it shows the two agencies that you are committed to the project. In return they should be happy to commit the time you need help you write the perfect brief, not motivated by the small budget, but by the 50/50 chance of winning such a high quality client.

    As far a judging the project, I am afraid you are on your own there, but you will have two website specifications and tenders co-written by professionals with whom you will have spent some the time to better understand them and their agency. As oppose to multiple responses written in isolation by strangers.

    Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

  • Protecting against ransomware – 3 golden rules

    Protecting against ransomware – 3 golden rules

    There are lots of stories in the press about RANSOMWARE. Excuse the capitals and bold but the urge to sensationalise the story is contagious.

    To be a fair it is a big deal, but why all the fuss now? And do any of the stories / journalists actually tell you what to do?

    Ransomware has always been a huge problem, but until now having a million plus family computers hijacked is not much of a story, but when the NHS was hit, or a power station gets affected the journalists wake up and engage CAPS LOCK for the big news story.

    The change is down to the shift in these criminals targeting companies rather than individuals, because that is where the money is.

    And it will get worse for us business owners;

    • There was a 3 fold increase in ransomware attacks in 2016.
    • Every 40 seconds, a company gets hit with ransomware, up from every 2 minutes in 2016.

    So here are the three golden rules I run my company by

    1. All staff with computers / laptops are told – do not trust anything online where you are not absolutely clear about the origin and legitimacy. Be especially suspicious of all emails with a link, or anything attached, assume the worst. Avoid clicking on anything on websites that you do not 100% trust.
    2. Make sure your Microsoft updates are up-to-date. This is so important, these are not Microsoft marketing gimmicks but genuine security patches to stop the spread of viruses and ransoware
    3. Back everything up. Assume you are going get hit, think about the impact, then go and back up everything important.

    To quote one of my developers “Careless clicking costs lives!”

    You have been warned!

    Photo by James Sutton on Unsplash

Back to top