Optimize Blog Visuals

When you create or choose an image to accompany your blog post, do you ever find that it shows up in places – as a thumbnail, on Facebook or LinkedIn, or re-blogged on another site – looking a little less than perfect because it’s cropped strangely?

Many sites, including many social media platforms, have unique pixel dimensions for optimally sized images.

Additionally, some sites will display the same image in multiple places, with several different crop dimensions – on the front page versus your actual post, or in a list of popular posts, for example.

The problem that many of us have is that we create or crop our images to look best on the original site of publication, but don’t take into account the many places our content may be spread.

There is a work around for this, however, which is pretty simple, and will all but guarantee that wherever you see the image associated with your blog post, that it will look great.

Determine the lowest common denominator

Conduct a quick audit of where your content most frequently appears on the web; your blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, as a guest post on blog X, and so on.

Of all of these, determine which site crops your visuals most dramatically. In my experience, ‘lowest common denominator’ cropping tends to be a perfect square. Any horizontally oriented visuals tend to be cropped from each side, while vertically oriented visuals tend to be cropped from the top and bottom.

Create a safety when creating or selecting visuals

Before creating or selecting a visual to accompany your blog content follow these steps to create a visual safety for your image:

  1. Create a new canvas in Photoshop
  2. Add a new layer
  3. Draw the shape of your ‘lowest common denominator’ cropping ensuring that the ratio of dimensions is correct
  4. Scale this shape as large as possible (if horizontally oriented the top and bottom edges of your shape will touch, and the reverse for vertically oriented crops)
  5. Centre the shape that will serve as your safety
  6. Decrease the opacity to about 50 percent

Now, always keep this as your top layer. When you create your image, or select a photograph to use, take a look at what appears within the square, because that’s what will appear when the image is automatically cropped on what you determined to be your ‘lowest common denominator’ site. If your image looks good within that square, the visual will retain its integrity across platforms. Just don’t forget to turn off your safety layer before saving your file.

Trade-offs

Creating visuals in this way can save you from having to create separate images for every site on which your blog content appears, but it will put constraints on your creative freedom.

Some images work best in either portrait or landscape orientation, and by following this technique, you reduce your ability to showcase images in all of their glory by confining the main focal point to the centre of the image.

Of course, if you like this technique and will apply it to the creation of future images, don’t feel compelled to follow it 100 percent of the time. If you have an idea for an amazing image that this won’t work for, then simply don’t use it.

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Do you have any tips or tricks for creating compelling visuals for your blog?

Do you take any measures to ensure that your visuals hold up across platforms?

It would be great to chat with you more about this in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial

Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. […] When you create or choose an image to accompany your blog post, do you ever find that it shows up in places – as a thumbnail, on Facebook or LinkedIn, or re-blogged on another site – looking a litt…  […]

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  2. […] Matthew When you create or choose an image to accompany your blog post, do you ever find that it shows up […]

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