With the domination of the phablet, smartphone screen sizes continue to get bigger and bigger. The 16:9 aspect ratio remains king and is here to stay, but the pixel count grows and grows:
- 1136px by 640px (iPhone 5S)
- 1280px by 720px (Samsung S3)
- 1920px by 1080px (Samsung S5)
- 2560px by 1440px (Samsung Note 4 – rumoured)
This blog displays images up to 600 pixels in width. That is only half the width of the newest phones in portrait mode; less than a quarter of the width in landscape mode. The only way to avoid ugly pixellation is to use larger imagery that can scale down for the desktop and be used in its original form for mobile.
That leaves you in what would once seemed to be a bizarre position of increasing your image sizes so that they look good on the smallest screens.
On cycleireland.ie, I use 1200px wide images, which are reasonably future-proofed (at least for the next couple of years).
You should look at that as a minimum size for your images, depending on where they are most likely to be used and how central they are to your content.
As broadband speeds slowly – painfully slowly – improve in country after country, it’s important to look at how that impacts the web content that we create. Web images are second only to videos in their impact on downloading times for your site.
Web images can now be used more creatively
Optimising your images has long been vital to having efficient sites, but it is time to loosen the restrictions we place on our image sizes, if we haven’t done so already. Web design is trending towards larger and larger imagery, and if yours is any good you should show it off in its most impressive way.
I have just reworked Cycle Ireland to make all of the imagery bigger and more prominent (that’s not a tautology – I placed it higher up in the page so that it is the first thing the user sees on a route page). In optimising images my only priority was how good they looked. File size came a very distant second. That said, all of the images were jpgs, and from my experience you get no discernible benefit with a file size above 80% of the maximum.
Have you heard about Adobe Kuler? Have you ever tried to do a simple graphic and have it turn out just plain ugly?
Why did that happen? If it was just fonts and colours, how hard is it to get them looking, at a minimum, alright?
Colours can be difficult to match up. You can spend hours changing shades and never get it right.
Adobe Kuler offers thousands of user generated swatches. Just search for a word and scroll through the options that it returns. I typed the word “freedom” and it returned the following on the first page:
Freedom in Adobe Kuler
Each swatch has 5 colours. If you pick one you like you can either screengrab it or download it.
Adobe Kuler fast forwards your creative colour thinking
It is a great tool if you are looking for a couple of matching blues or greens for a banner ad or suchlike. The quality tends to be quite high. Forget about messing about with colour wheels and take the easy option.
There is quite an active community on Adobe Kuler, and you will find colour suggestions for an incredible range of topics. Have you ever wanted to know the colour of a clown stabbing? Or the colour of Love in Tromso? Or why sadness comes in fishes or the imaginary road?
Adding a swatch is easy. You can pick the colours from a wheel, type in the rgb or hex values, or upload an image and use the colour picker on it. Then start editing and amending your swatch until it is perfect – as creations they feel remarkably personal and you won’t want to let shoddy ones get out into the world bearing your name. And coming up with a good title is half the fun.
Any good content manager knows the importance of good photography on their site. If you are a beginner and need to get up to speed as quickly and efficiently as possible, you need Ben Long. And with Pinterest and it becomes even more important, particularly if your users are women, who form the vast majority of Pinterest’s users – at least for now.
If you are a talented photographer – great. Skip this post.
Ben is a photographer based in San Francisco with a real talent for teaching the basics and breaking down components of a shot. He has a book – Complete Digital Photography – and numerous courses on Lynda.com. These include Photoshop CS5: Landscape Photography, Foundations of Photography: Exposure, Shooting with the Canon 60D and Foundations of Photography: Night and Low Light. There are many more.
A hairpin on Achill Island – does this make you want to cycle here?