Better Image Resizing!
Who doesn’t like visuals served up next to their written text? It adds spice to even the most well-written blog post and in the case of blogs serving up photos as the main course, images provide the entire meal. I’m not going to dish out the whole discussion around how images should be handled in WordPress, because that scope is huge and depends much on what is decided for the stand-alone version of WordPress. So, for the purposes of discussion here I’m limiting my wish to image resizing.
One of the many features of WordPress.com that I love is the ability to change themes easily to one of the over 100 available themes. While written words generally have no trouble transitioning to a new theme (unless you’ve used special fonts, colors, etc. extensively in your posts/pages), images in your blog posts can really suffer due to the automated image resizing that takes place to accommodate your new theme’s posting width. There are two aspects in play here: the image size/weight in kilobytes to speed up page load time and the size of the image in pixel dimensions (which is the main focus being addressed here).
Image Resampling: Looking at the WordPress.com Support Doc on Image Optimization, you can clearly see the difference in the quality of the two photos shown there. Even though they are the same pixel dimensions, the resampled photo at the bottom of that page (78kb) has severely lost both sharpness and color. For purposes of comparison, compare that image with this one resampled from the original by Yahoo’s “Smush.it” and weighing in at 67.8Kb:
Image Resizing: Looking at this photo on my photoblog, click through to the originally uploaded photo (1024×768 pixels) linked at the top of that page. The photo in the attachment page has been automatically resized to fit the theme’s attachment page width, but the image quality has suffered as a result.
If you are a new blogger or one with just a few posts with images, manually resizing existing images to fit your new theme while still maintaining image quality may be an annoying inconvenience. However, if your blog has been around for a while or you post frequently or your blog is photo-centric, you may not readily consider switching to a new theme, or at least not without some trepidation. Knowing that WordPress.com has a better image resizing engine, one that would maintain your image quality, would make this a non-issue.
(For what it’s worth, the whole discussion surrounding the trade-off between image size/weight and page loading time is so important that not surprisingly Google is also getting more heavily in the act. )