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If you are trying to setup a portfolio to demonstrate your web design skills you’ll need some images for your websites.
Maybe you are building a site for your friend, family member or local business – you want it to look good.
With 66% of people preferring to have a visually attractive design, rather than something plain, you really should be thinking about adding some compelling images to your designs.
I personally think decent images can make or break a website in general. Check out Sweet Basil Vail for example.
Do you think the website would look as good if it didn’t have those huge, professionally shot photos as a backdrop?
No, didn’t think so.
That’s why it’s super important to make sure you have some quality images for the projects you are working on.
So in this article I have come up with list of websites where you can find quality images for websites. It’s not an exhaustive list, these are just the best places to find professional images. After all, why would you spend time searching through loads of sub-standard sites for images that aren’t up to scratch?
Stock Photos – free
This first section covers stock photography which is a term used to describe images of common places, things, people etc. that are provided on a royalty free basis. In other words, you aren’t subject to any copyright with these images and you can freely you use them in your projects.
Probably one of the first places I always go if i’m looking for a quality image. They have a great selection of images available covering pretty much anything you could be looking for. They are all totally free to download!
There are real-life photos along with vector, cartoon style and more abstract images available. You can create an account and login to access original, high-definition images. These probably aren’t necessary for a web site however it also means you don’t have to answer a captcha everytime you go to download an image.
My second choice for getting free quality photos.
The type of photos you get a more along the professional slant (think people in offices or artfully arranged desks). That might mean that your searches are a bit more limited but you can be assured if you find what you’re looking for, the image will be of high quality
What can I say? More free images for your websites!
There are some more searching options that you can make use of to get inspiration. You can check out popular searches, or view images based on number of downloads.
A side project created by the freelancer site Crew this site provides you with free, super-high quality images uploaded by professional photographers. I think some of these images will pop up on other sites like pexels.com however they have a nice way to browse collections of images which is great if you need some inspiration.
With a rather dramatic name, Death to stock provides a free service where you can receive a pack of images each month to your email address. You can also download recent packs, straight from the home page.
The image packs are great as they are all related. So if you’re putting together a site that matches one of the themes available, you will have a selection of images available at your disposal.
Stock photos – paid
There is the old saying ‘you get what you pay for’. I think the sites i’ve given you above are awesome for finding quality, free photos but what they might be lacking in is one thing
For most projects the free photos available are for the most part going to be good enough. But when you’ve exhausted looking through all of the free photos available and still can’t find what you’re looking for, it might be time to start looking at paying for the images for your websites.
But there’s no reason this has to break the bank.
I’m not 100% sure how this site works but I think it curates stock photos from several other providers. That’s great news as it means you’re going to get the best range of images for your websites.
I’ve used them for several projects and can say that I always manage to find what I need.
They always have a deal on aswell. Normally it’s around $5 / £5 per image you want but they have a 99 Club subscription which is $99 (£75) for a year which gives you 200 downloads. So that works out as less than $0.50 (£0.38) per photo!
If you currently use any Adobe products you might want to consider Adobe Stock as it integrates well with other programs like Photoshop.
As you would expect from a big company like Adobe, the choice of photos is huge and the quality of each photo is staggering.
With that choice and quality comes a price tag though. You need to set up a subscription to access the images for your websites and prices start at $49 (£29) per month for 10 downloads if not paying annually. That means you’re looking at around $5 (£3) per image downloaded.
There is also Shutterstock which offers similarly priced packages.
If you’re looking for something extra special. Something to really add impact to one of your websites then you can get some amazing images at iStock.
The reason I left iStock until last is simply for one reason.
It’s the most expensive!
You are looking at around $12 (£7) for a single ‘standard’ image. If you find one you like in their ‘signature’ collection, the price triples to around $33 (£20).
For most new web developers this would simply be too much to justify but I thought it was worth mentioning for comparison. That’s not to say if you are landing some jobs building webites for businesses you can probably budget for these types of images giving your websites that ‘wow’ factor.
Icons can add some extra interest to your website when used in menus, lists and buttons. You can also use them as thumbnail images for your websites instead of using a photo.
Probably one of the most well known, comprehensive and free icon sets is provided as an ‘icon font’ by Font Awesome.
I won’t go in to the ins and outs of how to use it here (there’s instructions and examples on the site) but you just to load the relevant resources on your page and apply classes to an <i> tag.
Dead simple to use and you can easily change colours and sizes etc.
The Noun Project provides a searchable huge range of user contributed icons that are also of great quality.
You can download in either PNG or SVG formats. The only snag is, they are free as long as you give credit to the author. This means having something on your website that displays the author’s details.
This shouldn’t be a problem if it’s just a personal site or something you are using to build your portfolio. However, if you are doing paid work and don’t want to put the attribution detail in, you can upgrade by paying $9.99 a month to get unlimited access to all available icons.
If you are looking for collections of related icons then check out Flat Icon. There a large number of related icons that can be used for buttons, thumbnails or part of infographics.
You’ll find some really useful sets of icons here, such as social media sets. You do need to check the licensing type for each collection though. Most of them require you to provide a credit to the author however according to their instructions this can just be in the footer of your website.
Therefore it wouldn’t look too unprofessional if you used a set of icons and then credited the author at the bottom of the page.
Backgrounds / textures
There are some times when you might want to add a textured background to either a section of your website or the whole thing. In this case you’ll need an image to apply as the backround-image CSS rule.
You need to be careful when doing this as adding an over-the-top background texture can soon make a site look unprofessional. But, when used sparingly, a textured image on your websites can add some visual excitement.
Subtle patterns is a site that has been around for a long time providing textures that can be used as backgrond images. You can preview any of the 410 images available simply by clicking on the image so you can quickly get a feel to who the image might look on your site.
All the images are free and as the title of the site suggests, they are fairly subtle patterns to they won’t detract from the rest of your site’s content.
If you are looking for some more in-your-face type of patterns then Backgrounds ETC has a large collection of them. Most of them are tileable and cover surface types such as wooden floors, mosaic and more abstract designs.
The textures provided are definitely less subtle and would probably be better suited for small sections of a site’s background.
If you are looking for more of a complete image for your background then check out Web Backgrounds. The site is a little clunky to navigate but you can find some real gems (check out the ‘abstract’ section).
These backgrounds could easily be used for heading sections on your websites or for thumbnails with text overlayed on them.
Go build something
That concludes our tour around some of the top places to get images for websites.
There are many, many more sites out there offering free stock photography, icons and other web assets but these listed above are all you’ll need to make some beautiful looking sites.
If you can’t find something decent on Pexels or Pixabay then chances are you might need to go to one of the paid sites for something more specific.
If you are doing a personal project, then finding the most appropriate image on one of the free sites will do. If you are doing some work for a client, perhaps think about building image cost in to the budget when quoting them a price.
How do you handle finding specific images for your projects?