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Stop Using Galleries

thumbThere are gazillions of ways to add a gallery to a website: plugins, extensions, themes or even hard coding. Every one of them is fundamentally flawed in that it requires the visitor to do something to see the images in all their hi-def glory. And if you have a mobe the whole user experience nose dives into the annoyance zone.

People like to scroll

The rise of social media means many people now use websites (and apps)differently. When they land on an SM site they scroll down scanning the content until they see something they like. There are similiar behaviours on sites like eBay or Amazon.

This scrolling behaviour relies on the content being presented in a format suitable for the device being used. And the device being used these days is very often a smartphone or tablet. If you put all your images in a thumbnail gallery you are making your visitors work harder to see the full sized image. I’ve lost count of the number of sites that use a lightbox you can’t close on phone (because the X is off the screen).

Show Me the Money

Use full sized images on your site. Don’t hide things in galleries, put the full monty on the screen with suitable captions. Perfect for people with a phone, swiping on a touch screen and even a better user experience for someone with a laptop or desktop coumputer.


If you are selling jewellery or promoting your widget cleaning service then big images are always going to impress people more than a grid of thumbnails. For example:

As opposed to this:

Which do you think looks better?

Good for Google

Google image search used to have lots of options to filter by image size. The only choices now are Large, Medium and Icon. Which means your thumbnail gallery isn’t even going to get a look in.

What this now does mean is a page of captioned full sized images has a much better chance of getting indexed and ranked than a gallery.

But Ebay Still uses Thumbnails!

I know eBay (and Etsy) still use small images but once you get to the actual product the images are pretty much full sized. Which is what you should be doing if you are selling anything. Don’t ever, ever, ever use those awful hover zoomy things. Try to use one of these on a phone and you will soon realize why people aren’t buying your stuff.

And to prove a point: can you see the ship?


Try now:huge-ocean-cloud
More thoughts about using images on your site
Reasons not to use a slider
  1. Ang on 06 Jul 2015:

    How about sliders for homepage websites?

    Reply to Ang

    • Aerin on 06 Jul 2015:

      Nope. People might see the first one but they will already be scrolling down before the second slide has even loaded. Bin the sliders and just have a thin banner if you really want anything.

      Reply to Aerin

  2. Jamie Shanks on 05 Jul 2015:

    Hey Graham, a very relevant post for me. I just checked my latest blog post and it has a gallery then checked the post on the phone and sadly found the ‘close’ marker on the lightbox was outside the screen. Now, that post has 30 odd pics on one page, if I make them full size wont that make the post way to big? The pics are 100k+ so that’s a lot of downloading espicially on mobile or it means reducing the size of each image seperatley and upping the compression to save bandwidth and then replacing each pic, which is very time consuming.

    Any tips?

    My post is here:

    Reply to Jamie Shanks

    • Aerin on 09 Jul 2015:

      Hi Jamie,
      It’s worth using an image cruncher as it can make a huge difference to the file sizes. There are some great online tools like or a bit of Googling will find you all sorts of downloadable applications. But for new pictures always optimise before uploading. Set the image size and reducxe the quaity to 72ppi (which is sufficient for most people). Never upload directly from your phone or tablet. You can then add the full sized images to the post without a huge data increase. Even if you have gazillions of images on your site just do a post a day and it doesn’t lake too long to optimise the whole site.

      Reply to Aerin

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