Images are as important as the words that you use in your content. There I’ve said it. Deciding which images to use to support your text shouldn’t be an afterthought. Images engage. If the reader is engaged they’re more likely to read your content. The Featured Image of the writers cat used on this post, intends to reinforce the point.
I’ve written before on this blog about how to upload images to your WordPress site and about optimising them for search. The content in these is still relevant and worth reading if you haven’t already. This post addresses everything else you need to know, particularly with reference to preparing images to use in WordPress.
Unless you’re lucky enough to have built up an image bank of extremely grand proportions it’s unlikely that you’ll have many images at your disposal. If you think it’s ok to just grab something from a Google image search, think again. It’s not ok. However, if you credit the photographer and are searching for images that do not have rights reserved, then you can use Flickr or Google Advanced Image Search to source images for your posts. It is courteous to contact the photographer of any images that you decide to use, and you should credit them alongside the image, providing a link through to their portfolio.
Most people like photos of babies. Especially if they’re slightly curious, like this one. What’s going on here??
WordPress Image Editor
WordPress comes with a built in image editor which allows you to modify the image you upload in a number of ways. I can’t communicate this any better than the guys who wrote the official WordPress guidelines, so I suggest you read theirs. It’s all fairly intuitive so go ahead and try it out, you’ll find the controls to manipulate your image after you’ve uploaded it (click on Edit, then the Edit Image button below the image).
Before you upload your image it’s important to be aware of the default sizes that WordPress will create for you of each image you upload. The default widths are 150 pixels (thumbnail), 300 (medium) and 1024 (large). If the image you upload is larger than 1024 pixels wide then you’ll also have the option to show the image full size. You can edit these sizes via the Media Settings page on your dashboard, which is explained nicely in this video from WordPress.tv. Be aware that the larger the images are on your post, the longer it will take to upload, which impacts upon search engine optimisation.
So what size image should you upload? By size I’m referring to the dimensions, the height and width, not image file size. You’ll discover quickly that you can’t upload any images which are larger than 2MB in size! The dimensions you choose for your images should be based on the theme you’re using and how prominent you want the images to be. The theme you’re using has a huge influence on the way images are shown on your website.
The post display area, where you write your content and display your images, is generally between 600 and 700 pixels wide, if you’re using a sidebar. Without a sidebar it’ll be roughly another 300 pixels wider. If the image you upload is larger than 700 pixels wide and you have a side bar, WordPress will automatically resize the image to fit in the space provided. So why upload an image any larger than this width? You might want to make the image ‘clickable’ so it fills the screen when the viewer clicks on it. This is also known as the lightbox view. If you don’t want to do this, then yes go ahead and upload it with the maximum width of the post display area.
Thanks to Nick Kenrick on Flickr for letting us use this image. There weren’t too many images of pixels available but here’s a pixie.
Using Featured Images
Another thing you need to consider is whether you intend to use a Featured Image on your website. The Featured Image incidentally was known as the Post Thumbnail until WordPress version 3.0 dropped. The way the Featured Image is displayed is largely dependent on the theme you’re using. The Featured Image tends to be displayed on the post preview page, like this one here on Digital Davidson. It should tease the reader into clicking on the article to see more. When you click to read a post the Featured Image tends to be displayed at the top of the post, sometimes above the post title, more often below. The size of the Featured Image can sometimes be edited within the Theme Options.
Whatever dimensions you decide upon for your images, stick to it. There’s nothing worse than seeing a website with many different sized images. Continuity will make your site look more professional.
How to resize images
There are many ways to resize your images before you upload them – don’t forget to name them appropriately before you do this, as per my other article highlighted earlier. If you’ve not invested in image manipulation software packages like Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro then Windows users can access the free Paint package, and Mac users Gimp. It’s also worth noting that it’s best to save your images as jpgs, unless they’re logos, when pngs tend to work better.
So in conclusion, there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to using images on your WordPress website. These pointers should ensure you’re on the right track. If anyone has anything else to offer, which could also include photos of cats, then please do so below.