When to Use Thumbnails and When Not To

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Posting Images as Thumbnails

Since early on WordPress blogs have offered an automated image resizing feature on their blogs. For every image that is uploaded to a WordPress sytem, an image is created in the same location at a smaller size.

The advantage of this is that the image is of a smaller file size, which means it will take less time to load. It’s also handy for those bloggers who don’t have image editing software, in that it allows them to post smaller, bite-size version of images in an easy way.

Being pretty picky about things like size and clarity, though, I have a problem with using these thumbnails all that often. My issue with them is that they’re a bit small, usually, to be useful. I’ve found that, when posting screenshots for example (as I do in every WordPress theme review), the size just isn’t enough to see anything of substance.

Example of photos in use as thumbnails

A solid use of images as thumbnails (slightly resized).

On the other hand, oftentimes photographs display well as WordPress thumbnails. Recently on a site design for a local party planning business (site not live yet) I created a Javascript image gallery for their home page. It was nothing too extreme, but it suited their purposes. Anyway: each of the small images is a WordPress-generated thumbnail. And it works perfectly.

I would never suggest not using a feature such as this. It clearly has utility, when used correctly. I only stress the importance of not thumbnail-ing (since that’s a word) every image on your site. It won’t do you as much good as you think.

So how and when do you use WordPress thumbnails, assuming you do use them?