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Sizing images for blogging - these hot cross buns are fresh from the Kytons Bakery ovens

These hot cross buns are fresh from the Kytons Bakery ovens. A square version of the image is being used on the page, a 2:1.1 aspect ratio version has been loaded as a Featured Image, above

If a blog post is published but nobody hears about it in social media, was ever published at all?

The vexing challenge for marketing bloggers is image sizing for blogging. It’s one thing to produce useful content illustrated with a good image or two, but it’s another thing to keep up with the requirements of social media outlets like Facebook that keep changing the dimensions of images in their feeds.

This means that perfect image for your article looks all skewed or has bits missing when you share your blog post socially.

So in the interest of keeping pace with this fast-moving world of image sizing, I want to share what we are doing behind the scenes as we prepare our new website, so that you have a handy standard to follow.

Image sizing for blogging: Tall, short, wide, narrow?

There are a couple of factors that impact your image sizing decisions when you are blogging:

  • What size/shape image will look best on the page
  • What size/shape image will look best when my article is shared on social media

I am going to tackle shape first.

The aspect ratio of an image relates to how wide it is when compared to how tall it is.

A square image has an aspect ratio of 1:1 while a rectangle can have all sorts of variations with 3:2, 16:9 and 2:1 being some of the more popular choices.

Within the body of a blog post, I have long preferred a square image in the top right so that it is clearly visible but has room for text to wrap around it. This is still quite a good solution and simplifies your planning processes.

Some blogs are set up to feature an image across the top of the screen, full column, in which case a square image would drop down too deeply and therefore publishers will opt for a shallower rectangle, such as any mentioned above.

Within WordPress, you have three main approaches to inserting images, with varying consequences:

  1. Directly adding them to your article. This image will also be used by social media.
  2. Adding them to the Featured Image field and having the theme display them with your article upon publication. This image will appear in social media when you share your article link AND might appear on the page if that is how your theme has been set.
  3. Or, directly adding images to your article for readers while using the Featured Image as the image that gets shared to Facebook, Twitter, etc. This allows you to have differently shaped images; one for readers, another for social media channels.

The reason I would like to you ponder your approach to images in WordPress is because social media channels keep changing the shape of images they require.

For example, Facebook will try to make your article image fit across the whole Facebook Feed column, which is an area with a 2:1.1 aspect ratio. However, if your image is too small it will just use a smaller thumbnail version of your image.

Obviously the former option is best – you want your images to be large in Facebook to grab attention – but seeing your image cropped badly can be worse than no image at all.

So at the moment, one of the most efficient ways to run your blogging, which we will be doing on our new site, is to have the system set for using one image in the 2:1.1 aspect ratio to illustrate the article AND be ready made for the most popular social network of all.

Whether you are ready to follow suit or not, it might be a good habit to start being mindful of how you will use your article images across the internet when you choose them.

Go for images that can be cropped nicely at 2:1.1.

My old tutorial on using Pixlr for cropping images can help you start learning how to manipulate your pictures (just ignore the sizes I used back then and insert your own).

Never mind the shape, does size matter?

My colleague, Mark Gamtcheff, wrote an excellent post a few weeks ago about making sure your image files are ‘retina ready’ on your WordPress blog.

It is a good read and if you do have your site ‘retina ready’, which means your WordPress site will manage your images more smartly to deliver richer versions to devices like iPads with retina displays, you will want to start changing the sizes of images you use immediately.

My best advice at the moment (and remember, things changes in this crazy web world) is to choose images that are AT LEAST 2160 pixels wide by 1188 pixels tall at 72dpi.

This doesn’t mean your images will display at that size, it just means you’ll have enough ‘pixels’ to make your images look great across many devices.

Remember, the full benefit of this larger image is for those who have followed Mark’s advice, so best to read it now.

And if you are still using a square version of your images in your blog posts like we still are here, then I would use a separate version of your image, cut down to a square aspect ratio at least 1188×1188 pixels wide/high. The square one gets inserted into your article, the 2:1.1 version gets added as a Featured Image.

Happy snapping until I need to update this again!

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