It was not until I became more familiar with WordPress and its flexibility did I realize how much dimensions matter.
There are thousands, if not millions, of WordPress users that have the most popular WordPress gallery plugin installed. Countless users have posted in the forum that they are not happy with the look of their thumbnail galleries. In the end, though, it comes down to styling.
By default, NextGEN Gallery creates 100×75 pixel thumbnails. While that is good for some, it’s boring to others. More specifically, creatives like photographers and graphic designers.
When designing my photography proofing gallery (how I’m using NextGEN Gallery), I decided on the dimensions, 170×120 pixels. For me, the thumbnails are more pleasing to the eye.
My feeling is that it is same reason as to why videos are horizontal. Our eyes are as well. So by making your thumbnails have the look of a video, it’s more natural to our eyes and more familiar to our minds.
Want more on that? Check out Vertical Video Syndrom. (slightly off-topic, I know)
How about some more off-topic reasoning… Typography is a similar argument. Sure, you can use Arial as your font, but it’s not clean for everyone’s eyes. Georgia is one of the best default web fonts to use on a website, because it’s readable by everyone. Brian Gardner, of StudioPress, wrote a fantastic article that explains why some typography is bad and how to fix it.
Okay, back to the scheduled programing… Many artists use the following non-WordPress websites to display their work.
- SmugMug lets users pick between a thumbnail options, 100x75px is the small thumbnail but users can also opt-in to square ones. Is this ideal?
- Zenfolio users have multiple thumbnails options as well, but 200x133px looks to be the default dimensions. Is this ideal?
- PhotoShelter users have multiple thumbnails options as well, but 175x115px looks to be the default dimensions. Is this ideal?
What it should, and does, come down to is the following. Many gallery and/or portfolio services provide you with default thumbnail sizes. Hopefully they give provide you with the ability to add custom thumbnail dimensions to your site. If not, I recommend finding another option because depending on the work you do, customers will not enjoy the default sizes.
In the end, it is good to understand, ask and know what your customers enjoy, and how they think. At the same time it is important to make the dimensions complement your work. So if your work is square, then use square thumbnails. If your work needs a rectangle, then find the comfort zone, and mix between complimentary and customer preference.
As mentioned, NextGEN Gallery has the ability to create a custom thumbnail dimension. Currently the plugin only allows for an overall thumbnail size throughout all galleries. In NextGEN Gallery 2.0 (available soon) comes the ability to create multiple thumbnail sizes for each gallery, so users are never limited to just one.
What that means for WordPress sites running NextGEN, is the ability to change thumbnail dimensions based on the what I mentioned above.
If a graphic designer’s website usually hosts logos in one gallery and Instagram photos in another, then by using NGG 2.0, the graphic designer can utilize a square and rectangle thumbnail format for each individual gallery.
Also, many JetPack users have fallen in love the grid format that comes included. Don’t be surprised if you see that in NGG 2.0 as well. (hint?)
The future of NextGEN Gallery is flexibility for everyone, and I’m excited for it.
Thanks for reading,
NextGEN Gallery 2.0 Teaser vine.co/v/bpUwHvpmArm
— Scott Wyden Kivowitz (@scottwyden) March 20, 2013
[NextGEN Gallery is a product of Photocrati Media]