The New York Times' Bits blog ran an entry showcasing a recent finding by Jakob Nielsen that web users completely ignore "generic" looking images. Nielsen, a Danish researcher, has been studying usability on the web since before anyone seemed to care or have noticed that the user experience affects the success of a website.
Using eye tracking technology to measure the amount of time the user spends looking at various parts of the screen, Nielsen has managed to show that stock images go largely ignored. The Times concentrates on what this means to e-commerce sellers like Amazon and Pottery Barn, but it affects the impact and value of images on any website.
Nielsen sums up his findings simply:
“Invest in good photo shoots: a great photographer can add a fortune to your Web site’s business value.”
Stock photography carries a very low cost, but it also brings a very low value. And THIS is a scientifically proven fact.