What's New for Right-Sizing Your Web Images
DIY Sprocket Solutions
When I first started working with Sprocket Websites, I founded the “I-need-to-start-resizing-my pictures-Anonymous” club. I had no clue what I was doing, but I learned so much about cropping and pixels and scaling images.
In the beginning, I used to shove a gigantic, slow-to-load image into a tiny box and stretch a teeny picture to fill a cavernous abyss. But I spent time reading online tutorials and playing around with different photo-editing tools and, before long, my photo-uploading skills took a huge leap forward.
What has also taken a huge leap forward is the capability of social media and web platforms. Many of the newer website builders and social media tools crop and re-size images for you. Still, knowing how to post the right sized photos online is a useful skill to have for the most professional look, especially if your platform isn’t the latest version.
The “Why Mess with It?” Approach
Keep this rule of thumb in mind: Your image should be no bigger than the largest display of your web page. Yes, people use devices of all different sizes, but 1200-pixels-wide is a good baseline. So the banner image should be about 1200 pixels. A blog post photo that takes up two thirds of your screen should be about 800 pixels and the image in the sidebar should be about 400 pixels, or one third of the screen.
Why is this important? Because the camera on your phone takes photos that are more like 3000 pixels and the newer phones take photos that are even bigger. Stuffing a photo that size into your website slows down the loading speed of that page and your audience is all about instant gratification these days.
The “But It Needs Clean-Up” Approach
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but you want it to be the right thousand. To make the most of the average photo, you may need to crop out the boring or distracting parts and brighten up a badly-lit image. You can do a lot of these basic clean-up tasks right on your phone, if you are using a photo you took yourself. But even an image you downloaded might need a little tweaking and then you’ll want a photo editing tool.
The “I’d Like to Be More Creative” Approach
When you want to add text or edit an image to fit your specific need, a photo editing tool is necessary. Unless you are a graphic artist who does this all the time, some of the tools are pretty expensive to buy. There used to be a number of free programs online, but many of them have gone over to the subscription-based model. Check first to see if you have a tool already available on your computer and then search online for what options are out there.
To wrap up, remember that when you think you are “shrinking” or “enlarging” a photo, you may not be actually affecting the file size and that could make your image look weird on your social media or website platform. Check to see what pixel size they recommend and be sure that your image fits that recommendation. Your images will look so much more professional and you, too, will graduate from the “I-need-to-start-resizing-my pictures-Anonymous” club.
Have more questions? Just let me know – I’m happy to answer them!
This is an update to "I-Need-To-Start-Resizing-My-Pictures-Anonymous” dated 1/2/2013.