How Important are the Pictures?

I read once, in one of those guides on how to be a “successful” blogger, wherein success was defined as maximizing page views or some other SEO related metric, that you should include a picture with each and every post.

This was early on in the life of the blog, and if you go back and look at the posts for the first year or two, I clearly did not take that advice to heart.  In fact, I mentioned the paucity of screen shots from the first year of the instance group when making the video about our first year.  I was keen to have a time stamped screen shot of us standing with the corpse of the final boss of an instance, but beyond that I had few visual requirements.

Pictures certainly were not completely absent, nor anywhere as rare as they are for bloggers like Tobold or SynCaine (odd that they share that trait), but neither were they as common in my posts back then as they are now.  I used them to illustrate a point, and was not above a humorous post based on a visual gag, but I clearly did not buy into the “every post must have a picture” philosophy.

Over time though, pictures became more important to me.  Early on with the instance group I kept a scratch pad on my desk to take notes during instance runs.  That gave way to taking screen shots at key junctures, to the point that I am not sure where that pad of paper has gone.  And as my reports became more driven by what I saw, so I began to post more pictures because, frankly, it is easier to just show you some things that describe them in detail.

And lately, with my adventures in EVE Online, pictures have become even more important.  At least to me.  This is because me writing, “there were hundreds of missiles in flight” does not begin to express what was going as well as a picture like this does.

Pouring out missile fire

This is a literal example of a picture being worth a thousand missile descriptions.   In fact, with this sort of thing, we are actually getting to the point where still pictures fail and you need video to capture even some of the spectacle of the event.

It is no coincidence that my Fraps usage went up with my entry into 0.0 space.

And has time has gone on, I have noticed that some of my posts… especially the instance group posts… have begun acquiring more and more pictures per post.  My post last week about the group going to Deepstrike Mines in Rift seemed to need 21 pictures when I wrote it.

Over the course of the blog I have uploaded 4,025 pictures, totaling 1.1 GB it size.  I actually ended up not using 40 of those pictures as part of posts, though most of those are images I have used for the blog header.

I forgot to use this Mana Tombs picture

But that still means I have about 1.7 images per post, which doesn’t seem like much until you look at how many early posts had no pictures (e.g. October 2006, 38 posts and only 2 pictures), pictures hosted elsewhere (Image Shack for the first year of the blog, until made uploads easier), and then there are the pictures I have recycled through numerous posts.

How many times have I used this shot?

All of which is too many words just to get to a poll where I ask you, the reader, about screen shots embedded in posts.

If you wish to define or refine your relationships with my picture usage on the blog, feel free to leave a comment to clarify your position.  And there is still, potentially, a discussion to be had with how to I actually use pictures.  I generally put a 300×250 pixel thumbnail in the middle of the post that links to a much larger picture, because I like to be able to see the detail.

But I could crop them down so they fit within the 450 pixel width of this column.

I could also make them even smaller and wrap text around them, though I avoid that since I deal with browser compatibility regularly and, inevitably, what will look great on one browser when you do that will look like crap on another. (I am looking at you IE!)

So here is the point where you can opine on my use of pictures.

6 thoughts on “How Important are the Pictures?

  1. bhagpuss

    I voted “seems about right”. Generally I really enjoy your pictures and I like your layout. I think your illustrations are well-chosen and apposite, enhance what you are writing about and are frequently captioned most amusingly.

    The exception is EVE, although not due to any fault of yours. I read all your EVE posts and enjoy them more than anyone else’s EVE posts (which is not saying a lot, frankly) but all EVE pictures look pretty much the same to me i.e. like stills of a firework display taken through a filter that removes 90% of the colors. Very dull and uninteresting. EVE videos are slightly better, because they move about a bit, but still don’t often grab me unless someone’s used a piece of music I really like, in which case it’s a bit like listening to a CD track with that Windows random-swirly-thing generator running, like we used to do in 1997.

    On my own blog, composing, taking, choosing, cropping and placing illustrations accounts for about 80% of my time. I can write most of my blog posts in 30-60 minutes but getting one illustrated and especially laid-out to my satisfaction rarely takes less than another three hours. Sometimes it takes all day. And I’m still never satisfied.


  2. Tesh

    I work as an artist, fiddling with visuals *all day*. So naturally, most of my blog posts are text-only. *shrug*

    I like seeing some visuals where appropriate. That means I don’t really have a set limit of “too many” or “too few” as a blanket rule. Not sure that helps, but it’s a thought; use as many as you need to illustrate your point.

    Seems to me you’re doing just fine. Well enough for me to like what you’re offering, anywho.


  3. mrrx

    Not every post needs a picture, but dense walls of text are out of fashion for good reason. Keep using the pictures as you’ve been doing, I think almost all of them are fine.


  4. Knug Lidi

    keep mixing it up! sometime pics sometimes graphs sometime more sometimes less.

    Variety is the spice of life, old bean


  5. Aufero

    I voted “goes overboard now and then”, just because I often end up skipping past the pictures. I’m not sure that’s really overboard – it’s not like skipping past them detracts from my enjoyment of the rest of the post.


  6. SynCaine

    Reason I don’t post pictures often, other than laziness, is because I blog at work, while I play at home. I also generally don’t take SS when I play.

    As for this blog, I think the mix is good. Sometimes you will have a few too many in the instance posts, but I like writing more than visuals when it comes to blogs, so might just be me.


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