Photo Galleries


Thumbnails: Advantages and Disadvantages

Choosing photo gallery options can be a difficult. Certainly, ease of navigation is important, but the look and feel of the photo gallery should be appealing as well, so as to invite the user in.

Also, it is important to make sure the large-size versions of your photos are appropriately sized for ease of viewing — if the images are too small, users won't be able to see details in the photos; if the images are too large, users will have to scroll up and down (and/or right and left) to view all parts of the image. A balance must be struck to accommodate all users.

Every solution has an upside and a downside. Displaying a page showing thumbnail versions of each image that can be clicked to enlarge the photo helps the user see smaller versions of all of the images — like standing in the center of a room full of paintings and looking around to decide which painting to approach. However, if you don't use thumbnails, the process of viewing the images is simplified, and the site looks less cluttered; STILL, without thumbnails, it can be difficult for users to come back to a particular image that they want to view once again after leaving the site and coming back to it.

"Forward" and "back" links should always remain in the exact same place on the screen, no matter which page of the image gallery the user is viewing.

Thumbnail displays work best if all of the thumbnails are the exact same width and height. This is an important condition to consider, especially if the full-sized versions you have are of different heights and different widths. See Studio 63 photo gallery for a sample in which the thumbnails are all the same size, but the full-sized versions vary in their dimensions.

Here are samples of some photo gallery solutions:

1. Basic thumbnails page
2. Thumbnails and larger versions on same page
3. Simple gallery without thumbnails
4 Simple gallery with thumbnails
5. Rotating Flash slideshow
6. Adobe Flash slideshow template (for demonstration purposes only)
7. Lightbox Solution
8. (free solution that you can edit directly -- there's a disadvantage in that the pages will not be seamless with your present design)
9. Cincopa Widget gallery

I advise clients to consider their options carefully before choosing which photo gallery design solution is best for them.

To purchase royalty-free images at various rates, see:

Want to set up and appointment free of charge to discuss your needs? Contact Christopher Merrill.