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December 10, 2007

It’s Time to Say Goodbye to Teeny-Tiny Pictures!

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By Jessica Albon

I’m all for putting photos in your newsletter. In fact, it’s one of the early lessons for Newsletter Spa members–digging in and looking for ways they can make their newsletters more visual.

You’ve noticed I even share photos of my own from time to time, no doubt.

But, when it comes to sharing photos in your newsletter or on your blog, there’s one big mistake you’re probably making.

You’re making your photos too small!

Have you noticed this in other people’s newsletters or on their websites–that you can’t really see the details of a photo?

And then, you might click on the photo, hoping to get a better look, only to have the photo open at exactly the same size (or only slightly bigger).

It used to be that keeping your photos small was a way to make pages load more quickly for people on dial-up connections. But, these days, most of your readers and visitors probably have high speed connections (statistically speaking–only you know for sure about your own audience).

But, even if you need your photos to load really, really quickly, there are great ways to make your photos load quickly without making them too small.

So, let’s take a look at what you need to do with your photos to keep them looking great.

  1. If you need to use a small photo, link to a bigger version. This way, you’re getting the small file size benefits, but not at the expense of your readers’ eyesight.
  2. If you need to use a smaller photo, crop it into a thumbnail *and* link it to a larger version. For some photos, when you shrink them down, you’re not getting enough detail to make the photo clear. Better to make it intriguing in a small size (crop to one great photo detail) so that readers will be enticed to click and see the whole thing.
  3. If at all possible, make photos of people at least big enough that their face is the size of your thumb. For larger group photos, that’s sometimes not workable, but for photos of just one or two people, you want to make your photos at least that big (and you may need to crop accordingly).
  4. Crop out all that extraneous stuff and put the focus on your subject. Unless you’re sharing a landscape photo, crop the background out so that your subject can take up as much of the space as possible.
  5. Get feedback from someone else on your photos. Because you’ve already seen the full-size version, you may not realize your photos are too small for someone else to enjoy.
  6. Take the time to shrink your photos properly. In most cases, this means applying a sharpen mask before shrinking the size (that’ll make details stand out better once the image is smaller). It also may mean other adjustments as appropriate to the photo (color balance, brightness changes, etc), but start with sharpening, and play from there.

If you’re going to share photos with your readers, take the time to make them great! By taking the time to make your photos look their best (at a size your readers can enjoy), you’ll get the full benefits of sharing those photos with your readers.

(By the way, this is just one the reasons outsourcing your newsletter can save you a ton of time–why not hand off the hassle of making your photos look their best to experts like us? Interested? Visit our site to find out more.)

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