38. When to use low and high resolution images

High resolution seems the way to go, doesn’t? If you aren’t in the imaging world, high resolution of anything seems like the answer, the product you need. Yet, it isn’t 100% necessary and you may be wasting your time and well, money on things you don’t need.

Why would I share this with you as an image creator? Because I believe that images need to be used correctly because that’s ultimately how you get results from using the right visual content to attract your audience.

Here’s the break down. Low resolution means yes, low quality but it also means lower megabytes (storage space). Lower quality doesn’t matter when it comes to anything displayed on a laptop, desktop or hand held device. If you are approaching the size of a cinema screen (a super huge television screen, etc.), then we need to talk.

So why go low? Higher megabytes means slower upload and download times. So if you’ve got a bunch of photos on your website (i.e. blog articles, etc.) your site will upload slower. The same is true with social media. In fact, there are restrictions on the MB on almost all social media platforms. That’s how most of us know that we need the lower resolution files.

To keep quality the best on social media, it’s better to have the lower resolution file uploaded than it is for the social media platform to automatically reduce the size for you from a high resolution file. Often, they will not optimise quality for limited space because their storage space will win out.

Then what about high resolution images? High resolution anything is great when you want to edit the file yourself (i.e. different crop formats or filters) or if you’re looking to print. Depending on the size of the print (again, not aiming for a museum gallery) usually low resolution can work (i.e. business card) however, with flyers and brochures a higher resolution is needed.

Ultimately, having the high resolution files and low resolution files (optimised for the web) provides the most flexibility in using your visual content. It can stretch each image to be used in different ways and yet, still create a cohesive identity in the marketplace. Wondering which images are necessary, read more about it in the article on the key images needed for your new venture.