Minimum Theme – Best Practices for Featured Images

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This topic contains 19 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  eluviis 1 year, 4 months ago.

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  • #18586

    eluviis
    Participant
    Post count: 115

    I’v e been using Genesis for about 2 years, and to be honest, featured images have always puzzled me. It seems I’m not taking proper advantage of them.

    I understand that Feature Image size can vary from child them to child them. I built a website using Clip Cart and instead of using any of the images in the posts, I personally created a separate featured image for EVERY article (200+). I made them 190 x 190. However, after I was done, I realized that if I had made the image bigger, say 400 x 400 for example, the theme would have been able to resize the images to work for the 190 x 190 setting automatically. But them again, this might make the site slower. However, in the future, if I change my mind and wanted them to be bigger than 190px, the bigger images already existed. Kinda,wish I had gone that route.

    Now, to stick with the title, MINIMUM THEME. What is the optimum size and aspect ratio for default Minimum theme sizes (the newer Minimum theme as of early 2013). I see the recommendation is a gianormous size like it is for the homepage. That however is not feasible for every single post. So, to be more practical…

    Here are typical questions:

    Should they be square or  rectangular.
    What’s the best size?
    Should they be made bigger and have the child them display them smaller?
    Should a featured image be necessarily AWALYS used? I notice it puts the image big over the center subscribe bar (kind of like the home image)

    I’m converting my newest site from Thesis to Genesis. Since the site only had 40 posts at the time of conversion, I’m going back to every post and editing it to better fit Genesis. For all these posts, the featured images were Thesis-based and they were 180 x 180px thumbnails. Not sure how I feel about them. But, before I go change them all, I want to make sure I’m doing it right.

    I would appreciate any recommendation of best practices for Featured Image for Minimum Theme. Thanks.

    #18595

    Kraft
    Participant
    Post count: 86

    My two cents is install this plugin: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/genesis-minimum-images-extended/

    Jesse Petersen (along with myself, Nick the Geek, and Robert from FAT Media) put this plugin together to help with some of the issues we faced with Minimum.

    1. The featured image is also (likely) used by Facebook, etc as a thumbnail when sharing, so a big rectangular image may not crop/reduce down to look good.

    2. But, an image that looks good in the smaller thumbnail likely won’t above the fold on a post in Minimum.

    With the plugin, I’d have a “featured image” that looks good as a square. If you upload something larger than the thumbnail size, WordPress will create a smaller version of the image. Your site speed wouldn’t be impacted by this (though, both versions of the image are on your server, so if you upload all 3000×3000 images, you’ll use a lot of space!)

    Then, again with the plugin, you can upload “banner” images that better fit the rectangular space. 1600px width is what the theme is prepared to handle, but it would use smaller if you uploaded it. It’ll take up as much height as you give it.

    The plugin will default back to the featured image if no banner is uploaded.

    I hope that helps some!


    Brandon Kraft
    Volunteer
    Blog | Twitter | Business
    Genesis eNews Extended Support

    #18695

    eluviis
    Participant
    Post count: 115

    Awesome. This is the type of information I was looking for.

    This is what I’m thinking. I like the giant image on the homepage, but I don’t want an image like that for every post. Not to mention, it wouldn’t be feasible to try and source an image like that for EVERY post, even when I’m a photographer. This is going to be a big CMS type site.

    Right now, it looks like my large images on posts would be around 740px so long as there is no caption. With a caption, they would have to be 688px.

    Maybe, I can have the main featured image above every post be 740px, but not have that image repeat inline with the text. A problem I had when I first started testing large featured images – I ended up with 2 of the same images displayed in the post. The one from the inside the post and the featured image which was source from that same photo.

    However, I do agree that a square is likely best for thumbnails. However, Jalopnik for example, big in the auto website realm, uses rectangles for their thumbnails. Interestingly enough.

    Anyway, if I’m not mistaken, are you’re saying the plugin allows the use of a large rectangular featured image, but also helps manage a small square thumbnail? Am I right?

    I’ll give it a try. Yesterday I tired applying my old Thesis 180x180px thumbnails as featured images for some posts. That worked well for links (Facebook for example) and excerpts, but I ended up with a funny looking little square image above the fold in each of the posts. Not too good looking. Ha.

    Apart from this puzzle, I’m very happy with the theme so far.

    #18696

    Kraft
    Participant
    Post count: 86

    Exactly. With the plugin, set the featured image to what you’d like to use a thumbnail (since the featured image is where a lot of places/plugins pull from) and then upload a separate banner image when wanted.

    One thing the plugin doesn’t—yet—is allow you to completely turn off the big banner image (it will default back to the featured image if a banner isn’t uploaded).

    I added that as a feature request and will work on pushing that out in the next release of the plugin.


    Brandon Kraft
    Volunteer
    Blog | Twitter | Business
    Genesis eNews Extended Support

    #18697

    eluviis
    Participant
    Post count: 115

    Hmmm, okay, interesting. So I have to make sure to create both images. Not a problem, I do that right now as it is. In fact, I don’t even like WP resizing my images. So I usually create 2 per image in Photoshop. 1 for the image to be displayed and 1 for the large zoom image for the lightbox. Then I link one to the other. This is a lot of work, but the quality of the images is much better.

    I admit I’m a little queasy about using a plugin to drive what essentially is a MAJOR item for each post. Why? Because imaging if after 1,000 posts and year or two have gone by, the plugin gets deprecated or simply doesn’t work with a future WordPress or Genesis update. Then I’d be left with 1,000 post with no feature or thumbnail image and a big headache, an ulcer and a possible alcohol problem as well. Lol.

    Any thoughts?

    #18699

    Kraft
    Participant
    Post count: 86

    Hahaha.

    That’s a valid point and completely understandable. The absolute worst case would be to deactivate the plugin and it’ll default back to showing the featured image above each post. The worst-case-prevention would be upload a larger image as the featured, letting WP resize, but as you stated, that’s isn’t always ideal.

    A completely different alternative is to edit the theme directly to take out automatically using the featured image and then adding any large picture yourself in the editor. That would, though, be quite a bit different design-wise as it would fall under the title and within the smaller content area instead of full-width.

    For what it’s worth, the plugin is pretty simple and I’d be *shocked* if anything used is taken out of core (not using jQuery or something that could be updated in an unfavorable-for-the-plugin way, etc) . The only thing that may need to be updated at some point is for it to work with the new media manager, but it would be awhile before that was absolutely needed (as so many plugins, themes, etc use the older uploader). Just thinking aloud, I would think that if anything is depreciated that would render the plugin non-functional, would also knock out Minimum as a theme.

    To the chagrin of some other CMS developers, WordPress has been insanely good at maintaining backward-compat when introducing new features.

    Jesse and I (who have commit privs on it) aren’t going anywhere either; Brian Gardner would kick our butts if we packed up and left town. Don’t know if that helps any. :)


    Brandon Kraft
    Volunteer
    Blog | Twitter | Business
    Genesis eNews Extended Support

    #18710

    eluviis
    Participant
    Post count: 115

    Haha. Fair enough. I’ll load it up and run a some tests. I’ll also try and turn the plugin off after I have some posts running with it and see the results I get from that. Maybe I can put together a good workflow with default sizes so that if anything goes wrong in the future, it can still work and look somewhat good regardless. I’m not opposed to using featured images that center above the fold, yet still fit within the content column (740px). Not as dramatic, but definitely safer. I’ll try and have WP resize some images for me and check the results. I think WP could give me good results if it resized down from 1600px and gave me a large image for lightboxes (900px) plus medium images at (740px) plus a thumbnail. If I do that only for the featured images, I could get good results.

    The site’s running on a development domain right now anyway… So I’m free to try whatever and take my time fine-tuning while the current Thesis site chugs away on the real domain for now.

    For reference, the development domain is http://rightisbackside.com for RallyWays.com

    Thanks for all the help Brandon.  -Danny

    #18745

    Andrea Rennick
    Keymaster
    Post count: 985

    Upload the bigger images.

    Wordpress looks at registered image sizes and makes new copies of the images at those smaller sizes, so it is not just displaying a huge image at a smaller dimension.

    This is just in general how images work in WP.


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    #18753

    eluviis
    Participant
    Post count: 115

    ^^^ I’m aware. I have set my site however to not convert images – as I usually create my own. To do this, I simply set WP (in the media settings) to 0px x 0px for image resizing. I noticed Genesis and Minimum creates some other sizes on it’s own. That’s Ok. I actually change the setting in the media settings panels quite often, depending on what I need for a particular article. Most of the time, it’s set to not resize.

    #21093

    eluviis
    Participant
    Post count: 115

    @Kraft – Hi, do you by any chance have some links to sites that are running that plugin. Just looking for some examples of what people are doing.

    I ran into a site that’s not using it, and I tried to pin some images and I see what you mean about the narrow sliver-looking images.

    Regards,

    Danny

    #22104

    eluviis
    Participant
    Post count: 115

    @Kraft – I finally had a chance to try out the plugin and test various sizes.

    I see the potential, but I’m afraid there’s a small problem with the plugin. The plugin forces whatever image is uploaded through it to fill the entire available area for a banner image above the fold. It doesn’t just put the photo in the size I upload it on.

    I thought the idea was you could upload at banner photo in a size you want to center above the fold, while using a square image as a featured image. However, whatever I upload as a banner gets blown up huge to fill the entire banner area. Not what I had in mind. I’d like to be able to control the overall size of the banner image. So far, I’m very happy with 1140px as it’s the actual width of the content. But the plugin won’t allow it to show at the 1140px size uploade. I must use it as a featured image to show at that size. Am I missing something?

    #22134

    Kraft
    Participant
    Post count: 86

    I’m checking into it; that’s not the behavior I remember, but it’s been a few weeks since I touched it.


    Brandon Kraft
    Volunteer
    Blog | Twitter | Business
    Genesis eNews Extended Support

    #22138

    Kraft
    Participant
    Post count: 86

    Okay, I can confirm it isn’t working as I expected it. I’m bringing it to the lead dev’s attention to verify it is a bug or actually intended.

    In the meantime, you can add the following CSS in style.css to get it to work as expected. This would not adversely impact if you use the original featured image option or a future version of the plugin with this corrected. Thanks for alerting me.

    img#featured-image {
    width: auto;
    margin: auto;
    display: block;
    }


    Brandon Kraft
    Volunteer
    Blog | Twitter | Business
    Genesis eNews Extended Support

    #22273

    eluviis
    Participant
    Post count: 115

    ^^^ Great, I’ll try that. Consider me a debugger :)

    #23923

    eluviis
    Participant
    Post count: 115

    @Kraft – Hi, the CSS works great in order to display the image at the uploaded size, thanks.

    However, I did some tests you might want to her about:

    I used the banner image as a large rectangle and a 180 x 180px image for a featured image. Yes, in the blog excerpts, the smaller thumbnail square featured image shows. However, when sharing on Facebook & G+, the banner image is the one that shows up in the shares.

    Apart from the look of a square thumbnail, and the slight loading time improvement of the small square featured image in the blog or category pages, I really see no other reason to use them over straight up banner images, given I’m not using creative aspect rations or giant sizes for the banner images.

    The question is, when Minium displays a rectangular banner image as a small thumbnail image in the post excerpts, is it display the original large image as a small percentage-wise resize, or is it pulling a smaller image up from the resized images that happen during crunching?

    !!!!!!! EDIT: I just checked, yes, Minimum pulls from the original size banner image to use as a html-resized image if a smaller featured image is not included. So, this likely means increased loading times in category and blog listings. Good reason to use the smaller featured image.

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