Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Smiley girl wearing headset

Lazy use of stock images annoys me. But it annoys me most when it's done on "Contact Us" pages. For some totally unknown reason, web designers, marketing managers or whoever is deciding what goes on the contact page are insisting on having a stock image next to their phone number of a young attractive person (almost always female) wearing a headset.

Like the visitor on the page is so incredibly dumb that they need a visual clue as to what happens when they punch the numbers into their phone. Oh, I get to speak to someone in a call centre wearing a headset, do I? I sort of figured that's what would happen.

It's not just that it's so patronising. It's that the stock images are almost always the same. Identical young women with unnaturally white teeth, smiling at us to show us just how much they want to take our call. It's such a huge cliché.

A quick search on any of the stock image sites will show you that there are literally tens of thousands of them to choose from.

The only thing more condescending is the use of exactly the same stock images on live chat services - the real-time chat clients that sites deploy when visitors are perceived to need some help. They use the same headset-clad young women in their pop-up windows to show us that it's a real person answering our question. Why would the person be wearing a headset when the chat is text-based? They're typing, not talking.