Giant Image Syndrome

Are you suffering from Giant Image Syndrome? The common symptoms are: squished content, wrapped content, horizontal scrolling, super long lines of text, and basic site destruction.

Right now I am working for a Fortune 100 company that has a ton of intranet sites. The IT department was nice enough to create a default template so that anyone can build a site. They even allow them to use their own creativity, by not specifying a style guide. Oops.

Why Giant Images are Bad

My job for this large company is to go around, help fix their intranet sites, and build some more. The biggest issue I see fixing the existing ones? The use of giant images on their home pages. They are simply too big for the format. This is not an uncommon mistake found publicly online as well. Plenty of websites are suffering from the same syndrome.

Here are some reasons why you should avoid using large images in your website or intranet content.

Squish and Wrap

Depending on how your site is set up, with a dynamic width or static width, inserting a large image into your content has a common side effect. It will either squish its surrounding content, force horizontal scrolling, or even worse, wrap content that was meant to be on the right to a position below. Don’t do it!

Super Long Text Lines

Inserting large images within content also has a pretty devastating usability effect in regards to reading. The text that is within the same space of an image will often match its width. That is bad news if there is a lot of written content.

Easy, fast, and preferred line length for reading is anywhere from 65-100 characters in width at 1.0 em. That is about about 550-600 pixels. Zoom around this site for a while, you will notice all my images max out at 600 pixels. Anything more, I reduce it’s width, and then link to the full size.

Basic Site Destruction

The last two thing to note about using large images is download speed and monitor settings. Having a huge image will obviously slow down load time. That is something none of us want.

Knowing that users are logging on with all sorts of monitor settings means they probably don’t see your site the way you do. How do giant images get on a website in the first place? Poor technique in quality control. That technique? One developer, one tester, and one PC for the test.


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