I look at a LOT of accountants’ websites. And I see some design elements again and again. Nothing wrong in that.

But there is one trend which needs to stop. Gratuitous use of stock photographs of people in offices doing “business stuff”.

You know the type of picture – a group of American models with perfect teeth. All ages, races and genders are represented. They are huddled round a laptop, grinning inanely at a spreadsheet.

They look ridculous so why do so many firm’s websites feature images like this?

Smiley Happy People

Firstly, let’s agree that photographs on websites are a good thing. They bring visual interest, break up text and can draw attention to key areas on your site.

And for accountants, good photography can bring a site to life, adding an essential personal touch.

So what does good photography look like? My suggestions would be:

  • Pay a professional photographer to take portraits of everyone in your firm. Then upload them to a team page on your website. Putting a name to a face is important for clients and prospects. Using a professional photographer is worth the outlay – even though cheap cameras are powerful, a photographer will have the lighting, equipment and skill to make you look good. You can always tell the difference. Plus the photographs can be re-used for marketing materials, social media and the like. Also get a few team shots done and perhaps some of the outside of your building if it’s attractive
  • Get some photographs taken of you or your team interacting with clients. Your office is probably not interesting but some of your clients’ workplaces will be – take the photos there. Your client will like the free exposure and it’s a great way to show you firm in action. Again use a professional photographer. Here’s a firm who have done this really well – checkout their home page slider: http://www.rochdalehouse.com.au/
  • If you don’t have the time or budget for either of the above, stock photography is an option. Grinning Americans are banned. My first choice would be good images of your local area. Luckily in Australia and New Zealand, we are blessed with some great vistas, both in cities and rural areas. Or you could use more abstract images – perhaps to represent a business benefit like growth (eg. a sprouting seed) or just as a design element. Be careful here as it’s easy to fall into cliche or force a metaphor. Counting beans would be one example I’ve seen used a bit too much. For stock images, the leaders are iStock, ShutterStock. Stock.Xchng is free but the quality is lower

The main thing to take away is that client and prospects love authenticity. Using a photo of people who are obviously have nothing to do with your firm is the opposite of this. It’s like you’ve got something to hide.

Photographs can add something special to your website. But you have to be real and use some imagination.