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First, some background. Most of the big images I see on the web, especially those in articles, are usually 800x600 pixels in size. Is there any reason for this, especially the height? (e.g. engadget.com, bgr.com)

Okay, now is it bad user experience to have big images on a web page (especially inside articles) if the height of the images is longer than the screen resolution of the user's PC? or it doesn't matter (i.e. users are just fine with it)?

For example, the images in the article on this site are pretty big, and when checked from my 13" laptop with a screen resolution of 1366x768, it's easily apparent that users on most laptops and even desktops will have to scroll to view the full image i.e. they can only see a part of the image at once. Is what the site's doing bad user experience?

It would be great if you cite a research/study to support your view, although not a must.

EDIT: Since I received an answer from an unthought-of angle, I would like to stress — the focus is only on 'user experience' when viewing the image that's bigger than their screen, and NOT if they are on a limited data plan or slower connection.

I mean, come on, the big image is smaller in size than the 800x600 resolution images on those sites!

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Slow connection means it's longer to load these images, which is very much a user experience issue. In fact I would wager that if there are any studies out there into large images they would really focus on the negative user experience aspect of long page load times. Otherwise there isn't anything to actually research against other than 'do users like big images, yes or no' - that's not really anything you can accurately measure so would only be a research into users opinions. –  JonW Nov 1 '12 at 9:26
    
The problem with the example site is there's really no reason to see those images in all that detail, at least not without opening the galary/full size view... –  Ben Brocka Nov 5 '12 at 14:25
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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Inside an article, or any long text, I'd say yes, it's a horrible idea.

Unless you are in a gallery, where the image is the most important thing you are going to look at, they never should be that big.

If the image is important, you should provide a link to the enlarged image, so the people that want to see it can do it, and spend as much time as they like with the picture, but never force that load and time wasted on everybody.

It's also important that you provide an indication about the size of the image, so the user can decide if it's worth the time to load it.

Plus if you have a wireless or 3g connection, that is somehow limited or expensive, that kind of images are your worst enemy.

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Good answer, different angle to look at the issue. Made me think. Thanks! –  its_me Nov 1 '12 at 5:34
    
I edited the answer to reflect that the limited data plan is just another point why big images are a bad idea. –  PatomaS Nov 1 '12 at 5:41
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I have always been in favour of the use of apt images that support the content, to offer a pleasant user experience. However, using large images not only increases the page scrolling but the loading time too, thereby corrupting the user experience in a website. Instead, I feel we should go for thumbnails for a better experience. It is a nice suggestion to let the user know of the image size and to provide the option of enlarging an image. It is better to keep in mind the internet connectivity speed of the user in mind.

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