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We have been talking about avoiding clichés lately, instead trying to reflect the unique personality of every business. That way our design will stand out among millions.

Sometimes the hardest situations come when our clients ask us to implement some not-so-unique elements and it seems almost impossible to convince him that it would be better to take another direction in order to differentiate his business.

There’s nothing wrong with the use of a specific image (or design trend). The problems come when we use them gratuitously, without asking why it should be there and if it is really conveying an honest portrait.

I will show some images I consider overused, since the beginning of the web, that could make your website (or any design) look generic, unimaginative and dated – if you use them just for the sake of it.

The handshake



This is one of the most classic business images on the web. There are countless websites and brochures with similar photos. The irony resides in that clients still ask for it. We should show how this image is overused if the idea of the client is to show a “confident”, “trustworthy” or “friendly” values. Then you should show other ways to convey that emotion with the use of other images, color palettes, and patterns.

The Call Center

This is another classic. I can’t remember how many clients have asked for this kind of picture, when the vast majority don’t even have a call center, or a single free line. And you can see all around the web these many unavailable live help services – giving nothing more than frustration to the clients.

The Globe

Does the company have any branches? Do the attendants speaks several languages? Does it have international clients? If the answers to the last questions were “no”, “no” and “no”, then you should reconsider why you want to give the international feeling to it.

The world in your hand

Same three questions from the last image. No, no and no?

The enter Key

Is it a design for a hardware related company? Maybe not. Maybe there is no need to sell keyboards–or use this image in the design. You may agree with me that you should think twice before using it.

The Clouds

I love to use “organic” elements in design. Clouds are always refreshing, but try not use the image on its own – try to give it a twist, to add some extra elements, maybe a kite or red balloon.

The Skyscrapers

The skyscraper image is another resource to communicate the idea of “power” and “internationality.” I find it very useful, as well as the use of city skylines. But consider using something more human and warm if the company you are working for is not that big.

The random media

This kind of image, any close-up of hardware, is widely used. But their use may give the design a “technological aura” that transmits the wrong idea.

The @ simbol

The @ symbol is a true gem. At least the spinning @ is not in fashion anymore.

The Group of professionals

The “we” instead of the “I”. Why show d vast group of professionals when it is a one (or two) man show?

Conclusion

Trying to avoid clichés is always hard work, not only in the pressure we can face but also in the temptation to offer a cookie cutter design just to give the client “what he wants”. That’s why we should always question the use of any element in our projects – why we are using it? What do we want to communicate? Is there another way to do it? Is it faithful to the business personality?

What other images do you think are over- and/or misused?