We all live in a world of smart technology and high-definition… well, everything. It’s a little overwhelming sometimes. High-resolution graphics aren’t a new concept to anyone in the marketing world – and beyond, for that matter. That means you should not only know you and your designer should be using high-res images and graphics across all of your content, you should also know why.

I even wrote a blog on raster vs. vector images. In short, vector is amazing, but even vector artwork has to eventually be saved as raster before it goes out on the web. (Really, read the blog if those terms are gibberish to you. Even if you aren’t a designer, it’s worth learning if you’re someone who interfaces with a designer on a regular basis on projects.)

But like any good Inbound-er, I’m obligated to answer the questions I get asked regularly. Or, in this case, the questions that maybe should have been asked, but were not.

See, there seems to be a disconnect between knowing hi-res images are a good thing and actually having them on hand when you need them. Or, more importantly, getting them into your designer’s hands.

Too often, I find myself in possession of a handful of logos that have been pulled from the web and are intended for use on an 8-foot-tall banner. Already quite small, these logos quickly become unrecognizable if I try to enlarge them.

via GIPHY

The struggle is real, people.

So as a quick, clarifying, refresher course, here are the reasons why high-resolution images are the way to go.

Digital Content is Thriving

Devices. EVERYWHERE.

There are countless ways your content can be viewed these days. With the addition of wearable tech to this digital world, it’s easy to see how impossible it would be to try and regulate how your content looks across so many different devices.

But if you’re like me, you appreciate perfection, and you probably find it frustrating that your control over digital content is so limited. You want your stuff to look awesome, no matter who sees it or what tech they are using.

Using hi-res graphics helps you to gain more control over the digital content you want to promote.

Whether those in your audience have fancy devices with Retina display or are seeing your content through a lower-resolution television, you’ll know they can all see the best you have to offer when you have your images sized appropriately.

By being aware of the proper dimensions for the images that you need, you can offer a better and more professional experience for your audience – without being ridiculous and using an image that could greatly slow down your content’s loading speed.

To learn some great tips on designing for Retina display, check out this blog. It provides a lot of great, actionable tips and insights.

Social Media is Your Marketing Tool

The world of social media can be a tricky place for graphics – apps and websites are constantly being updated, and today’s square profile photo might be circular tomorrow.

This is a particular pain point on Twitter and Facebook, where cover images can go from very large to very small from device to device. A low-res header image on Twitter may look fine on your small laptop, but could be very pixelated on a 27-inch iMac. And if you’ve included text in your Facebook cover, you really have to watch out for how that image may be obscured by the profile photo and links that sit on top of it.

But this, thankfully, is also where social media templates and wonderful apps like Canva thrive and help us to keep our heads on straight. The moral of the story? Don’t let ever-changing social media image requirements trip you up.

I don’t care what any random clickbait articles might emphatically declare – print is not dead.

Just like digital advertising, there are right and wrong ways to go about it. Nobody likes spam, online or off. Help make sure you’re doing it right by starting with great graphics.

When it comes to the images you use in your printed content, you must take care to have high-resolution images. Just like graphics for an iPhone, the smaller the final content and the closer the audience will physically be to it, the more important it is that the image is as clear as possible.

Printed products demand high-resolution images. It’s a necessity.

For instance, if you want to use an image in a printed trifold pamphlet to hand out at a tradeshow, you’ll want your image to be around 300dpi.

(I’m not going to get into the granular of dpi vs ppi and what they mean for you here, but feel free to check out this awesome article which explains these two terms and resolutions in greater detail than I ever could.)

The general rule of thumb is that 72dpi is a good resolution for web graphics, and 300dpi is great for printed works, since you’ll need to have a much larger range of detail on an image people can hold in their own two hands.

In fact, many vendors and printers will ask your designers to provide content with all images at exactly 300dpi. They can be very particular about this, so it’s good to expect them to push back on you for better quality images.

The few exceptions to the 300dpi rule are extremely large-format products, like banners, signs and billboards that will only ever be seen from a distance. It won’t matter if an image is actually pixelated up close when you will be looking at it from over 20 feet away. Resolution and dpi can therefore be much smaller for these types of content.

Keep Your Credibility

Don’t use images that look like they came from the first page of Google results.

First of all, using images straight from Google for your commercial work is illegal. Secondly, that 100×200 pixel image that you like will not look good or professional on the cover of your latest eBook. Especially if any of your readers decides to print it out.

But in general, yucky, pixelated images make you look like you don’t know what what you’re doing. Just like you wouldn’t want a website built by a web developer whose own website looks 15 years old, your audience might not trust you as much when you look like you can’t even handle your own marketing.

You’re better than that. Show off your company’s brand and class with big, beautiful, high-resolution images.

Keep Your Sanity

Yours and that of your designer’s, that is.

Pixelated images are the fastest way to make your designer cringe – aside from Comic Sans or Papyrus fonts. Spare your designer the trouble of having to beg you – and interrupt you countless times – just to get better photos. You have a busy schedule, and they want to respect that. By sending your designer the files they need right from the beginning, they won’t have to bother you so much.

“Pixelated images are the fastest way to make your designer cringe – aside from Comic Sans or Papyrus fonts.”

Final Tip

When it comes to having the best-looking images for your print and digital content, bigger is usually better. Even in the case of large-format printing, starting with a larger image allows your designer to make it smaller if needed. Shrinking images is perfectly okay, but enlarging images may bring your designer – and audience – to tears.

Don’t know how big of a file you need?

Again, Canva is a great resource for most social media dimensions, as well as a lot of other common print sizes.

For me, I start every single design project off by asking what the final product size will be. If I don’t know, I don’t start. Having to resize whole images and graphics to fit a completely different deliverable wastes my time, and could cost my clients more money in the long run. It’s best to get off to the right start by knowing what the expected end result will be.

If all else fails, just talk with your designer! They’ll know what they need from you, and will be able to help clarify any image resolution questions you might have.

Have your own great image or sizing resources and info? Feel free to comment below.