Karen McGrane – Adapting Your Content for Mobile » UIE Brain Sparks

Karen: So, having worked on sites for many large publishers, you realize, like, “Oh. If you let your designer go in and specify the exact right image size that would fit perfectly in every single design, you would wind up with a million different image sizes.” They’d all be slightly different, and publishers run into this problem and they will eventually go in and say, “No.”

We are not doing that. We are going to cut a handful of different image sizes, maybe five or six, and those are the sizes you’re going to have to work with. And you will choose one of those sizes, it may not fit perfectly. But it’s going to be close enough, and so that’s what you’re going to use.

There’s no way to necessarily anticipate what the exact right size should be, but if you think of it in the system, and you look across the range of possible places that those images might be used, you can get pretty close. You’re not going to be horribly wrong.

One of the issues that we’re running into is that many publishers today, when they’re going to mobile, actually haven’t anticipated that they would need different-sized images for mobile screens. One of the surprising problems I’ve run into, is that they actually don’t have large enough images.

Everybody thinks that mobile images always have to be smaller. But with retina displays, often times what we run into is that the largest image size isn’t large enough to be used to fill the whole screen on a retina iPhone. That’s one of those examples where it’s like OK, well what are we going to do.

We’re either going to have an image that doesn’t fit perfectly or has to be scaled up a little bit so it gets a little crunchy. Or we’re going to have to go back to our production team and say, now we need you to cut another image size. So those are decisions that…

It’s like you could make those in the long term. The fact that that might happen, the fact that you might realize at some point in the future that you don’t have all the content elements or all the image sizes that you want, isn’t a good reason to not do your best of analyzing what the system should be and coming up with some reasonable defaults now.