Duncan's blog

November 17, 2008

How not to display images

Filed under: Web — duncan @ 7:00 am
Tags: , , ,

Trying to register at xbox.com. For some reason their Flash detection seems not to work for me (using Firefox 3.04, Flash 10.0 r12). So they display an image telling me to "Please download Flash Player". If you look at the fullsize version of the screenshot, you’ll see the image looks sort of distorted.
xbox.com screenshot

It seems that Microsoft in their infinite wisdom, are stretching that image to fill the screen. This makes the text all fuzzy, and the female character they’ve used seem somewhat wider than her designer originally intended.

It’s kind of an amateur web technique. Often you’ll see it being done the opposite way, where a much larger image is squashed down to fit into a smaller space. In this case, the image often looks ok, but with the effect of increasing download time. If the end user is on broadband, they probably won’t even notice. However the amount of bandwidth your site uses will be higher than it should be. I saw a particularly bad example of this recently where two small logos on the page were actually very large .bmp files. The cumulative filesize of those files was over 750Kb. I converted them to .gifs, grand total about 10Kb.

The original image for comparison:
xbox original image

A separate discussion could be had over whether they even need an image on this page anyway. A simple text message telling me to download Flash Player would have sufficed.

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