As the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” But if that picture is stretched, pixelated, distorted or blown up, what are those thousand words saying about you?
Image sizing is as critical to effective online storytelling as spell check (and sometimes just as faulty). But unlike spell check, the solution is not a red squiggly line away. Different platforms have different criteria, but many will take whatever image you give them and warp it in their own way to make it fit their criteria, leaving you with an outcome that’s not what you want and that takes away from your efforts to create a well-crafted message.
To fix this you need to know two things: what the different platforms want, and how to adapt your imagery to fit the platform you want to use.
So what do they want?
Most social media platforms list their image requirements in pixels. Think of a pixel as the different colored pieces on the Lite-Brite you had as a kid. (If you’re not old enough to know what a Lite-Brite is, then I expect you to already know what a pixel is.)
Image size requirements change as often as templates, so these requirements are typically a moving target. Fortunately, there are many online guides available that are updated often, My personal favorite is this one from Hubspot, but there are many, many more
Required sizes are typically listed width-by-height, and they typically recommend uploading a picture that’s slightly larger, but still proportional, as most will compress the image before displaying.
After dimensions, your next hurdle is file size, or how much (or little) information is being included. Are you using a postage stamp-sized image meant for a billboard, or a Seurat jammed into a thimble?
File size can easily be determined by looking at the image in a folder view, or right clicking and accessing the properties menu (Mac users, its pretty easy for you too)
So how do I make it that way?
So now that we know what the different platforms want, how do we make it so?
This is where a little more effort may be needed. Your computer almost certainly has a tool that can help you set the correct size and dimensions for your image. The easiest way to find out is to right click on the file and choose “Open with…” and see what options are presented. From there you’ll need to do some poking around, both on the programs that come up and on the internet to familiarize yourself with the navigation, tools and options you have. Find one that works best for you (In a rush I usually rely on Microsoft Photos, but when I have more time I access my Adobe Suite) and learn the shortcuts that will let you set the image sizes and dimensions you need.
As any painter will tell you; the prep is more important than application. So just like you make sure your messaging is spelled correctly and tells an effective story, take the time to ensure that the images that go with the story are just as clear, concise and meet the demands of the platform.