A picture is worth a thousand words. First impressions are so important. Put your best face forward. These are all idioms that remain true and in the world of social sharing, that first impression of your work is likely the image you use for your blog, article, or event.  So, the questions you should ask yourself or your organization – where are you getting your images and are those images any good?

Where to get great images

When deciding what photo to use for your own article or blog, the best option is to use a photo you or your organization took yourselves. The photo is yours and it will be unique.

Two caveats to that are that the photo should be of good quality and the photo should be related to the article posted.  If a good original image is not an option, it is possible, legally, to use an image from the web.

There are a lot of great photos on the web. We see them being shared on social media every minute of every day. But that does not give you permission to pick and choose any photo you want. Even if it is just for social media. It is still stealing if you do not have the photographer’s permission to use the photo.

If you do need to find photos, there are several options. You can buy the photo from places like iStockPhoto and 123RF. This may be a good option if the photo is really good and beautifully captures the essence of your article or program. You can also contact the photographer and ask permission to use the photo. A third, and more common option, is to use photos that have a creative commons license that allows you to use them for free.

Popular sites that have creative commons images include PixabayFlickr, Pikwizard, and Wikimedia commons. It is really important to read the licensing agreement before using the photo from these sites. Some licenses have limitations on use or ask that you properly attribute where the image came from. I once downloaded an image from google images that was filed under ‘labeled for reuse’. I did not read the licensing agreement closely and the owner of that image asked that my company pay them for the image. And we did. The lesson being – always read the fine print and if an image is too good to be free, it probably isn’t.

Size matters – photo dimensions

Another factor to consider when choosing a photo is its dimensions. At Zeal Access, all of our images are the same size (1024 x 512 px) so that they have a consistent look on our website. That consistency may not be important to you now but if you ever decide to change the format or design of your website, all of those images with different dimensions will likely be a problem. The photo dimensions should also be social media friendly. For Twitter, the ideal image is 1024 x 512 pixels (px). For Facebook, it is 1200 x 630 px, for Linkedin 1200 x 628 px, and for Instagram, 1080 x 566 px or 1080 x 1080 px.  If your images are similar in size to those listed here, you are fine. But, if they are significantly bigger or significantly smaller, that can lead to a lot of problems on your social media platforms. If too big, the social media platforms may crop the image and if too small, they may not show the image or they will show a blown up image that is grainy. Again, first impressions are important so take a few minutes to make sure your image looks good on social media.

Size matters – file size

Another factor to consider when uploading an image to your website is its file size. Bigger does not always mean better. If you consistently load the highest quality photos to your website, it can very quickly use up space on your server that in turn, will dramatically slow your website down. At Zeal Access, we tend to use images between 200 and 400 kB. At that size, the image is usually of very good quality, but it does not take up that much space on our server and it loads quickly as a thumbnail on social media platforms.

The image associated with this article was obtained from Pixabay. It is free to use for commercial use with no attribution required.

For more tips, feel free to go through our library at zealaccess.ca/tips.