Time to take stock and be more efficient

James Leal-Valias

The famous investor and fund manager George Soros recently told the World Economic Forum in Davos that the UK is at risk of going back into another recession.

However, as an innovative sector with the resourcefulness to adapt and change, the design industry already fully understands the need to operate efficiently. It is adept at making best the use of time and resource-saving technologies.

A key resource for creatives, suppliers of stock imagery (and audio and video) have to date focused mainly on volume – sometimes at the expense of quality or real attention to customers’ needs. Some pride themselves on providing access to millions of images, video or audio files from around the world, but have done little to help their customers pinpoint the single image that answers the immediate brief.

As the market for stock imagery matures, everyone from trans-national creative agencies to small, entrepreneurial set-ups are demanding improvements beyond volume to quality, accessibility, ease of use and price. Designers are not a homogeneous group; they need to access the market at different quality and price points. Vendors must acknowledge that there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

When it comes to selecting stock files and images, ease of use, speed and accuracy remain of concern to a designer.

Times of austerity tend to embed the need for making the most of resources available so this is a culture that will become stronger in the coming months, and possibly years ahead.

Designers want to know they can access specific collections and pinpoint images, video or audio files with minimal fuss and time expended. Consequently, stock photography suppliers need to move quickly to meet the needs of designers who are now much more flexible and effective in selecting products and services in a globalised economy.

Designers can certainly ride out the turbulence of shrinking markets and slashed budgets, but this can only happen if all of us in the creative industry play our part in providing value through flexible and efficient services.

As service providers, we must be much more adaptable to offer the higher-quality services and products designers need to cope with tough economic times. The good news is that increased competition in the market sharpens all our collective pencil.

The less inspirational designers – as well as their suppliers – will be squeezed out of the market. In the end, our customers benefit from a renewed call to focus on quality.

James Leal-Valias, Creative director, iStockphoto, by e-mail

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