When I use my own photos and graphics I usually size them to 3x4 landscape dimensions. I think this looks best at the top of the Hub, and when centered.
Unfortunately, for the thumbnails here on HP it doesn't look so good. The sides are always cropped off. On Facebook they get all kinds of messed up. I don't use Pinterest, so I don't know what the images look like there.
Square images look better for Facebook and thumbnails, but it seems like they take up too much real estate when used at the top of the Hub. Floated right they look okay.
Anybody have advice on best practices for image size/dimensions? Lately I find myself squishing the text and subject to the center of the image so it is at least legible for thumbnails and social media.
Good question, it's something I think about too when I select images. Since a site can change the way it displays thumbnails at any time and you can't control it, I just choose the aspect ratio that looks good on the hub itself and hope for the best with thumbnails.
This is a very good question and I'm eager to learn what people have to say about it.
As for Pinterest, they don't crop or squash images at all, as far as I can tell. If the image is eye-catching and has words on it, people will be likely to pin it on Pinterest if it accompanies an interesting article, editorial, tutorial, or story.
If I use 640x550, the images always come out right on HP. If I use a larger photo, like I did with recently with a photo of my dog playing in a pool with a Rottie, the image is shown incorrectly. To resize them I use the paint.net program, but it sounds like you are already resizing them somehow
I agree with Kylyssa about Pinterest. They always do a perfect job showing my photos on their profile page, no matter what size or shape I use. I have heard a lot of complaints about how FB crops.
If the software works properly then the image should resize for the device you are using.
However when HubPages resizes a non-square image to a square one it would be really nice if they gave us the option to decide which square (of the picture) to use
I don't worry about the thumbnail images so much. It is not meant to be a full representation of the hub. If it really bothers people, you can always crop it yourself to a square format.
I reckon the first image should be landscape, not so deep that you cannot see the beginning of the text without scrolling.
It should reassure the reader that they have reached a page that will answer their query or deliver the info that they want.
I often use a composite (with several different images that are used on the page) if the hub is a 'best of' or or a 'type of' kind of page.
I personally hate images with writing scrawled over them for the sake of pinterest but that seems to work for some people.
After that I go for portrait format images, if possible, that work well in mobile and the narrow layout of hubpages for desktop.
I crop to focus attention on the important part of the image.
I use pixabay or other public domain images where possible. After cropping and maybe flipping horizontally (if it looks better) these images are unique as far as Tin Eye type software is concerned. A little bonus -- Google likes unique.
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