The saying “a picture tells a thousand words” was never so true as it is in blogging. Using images in your posts takes your blogging to another level. Images can be used functionally – to break-up long blocks of text, and they can also be used to improve your blog’s aesthetic – high res images complement your text with dramatic flair.
But just adding an image through the post editor is not going to give your blog any razzle dazzle. For that, you’re going to need a lightbox; and here are five reasons why.
1. WordPress Stock Image Formatting is Weak
The standard WordPress editor does two things: it leaves your images in plain, block format; and when clicking on that image inside the post, the image is opened in its own window, again in plain format in the top left of the browser window.
Basically, the viewer is taken off your main site and sent to the browser’s file or image viewer. He has to hit the back button to re-enter your site, which leads to higher rates of abandonment and exit.
2. Many Themes Don’t Auto Scale Images
If you’re using a theme which doesn’t automatically scale your image, and the image you want to upload is quite large, you might end up with pictures that extend past the content area and into sidebars and comment blocks. Oooops!
3. WordPress Image Editor Requires Too Much Work
You could go into the image editor and reformat each image to fit your content perfectly – but that’s alot of work, and alot of repetition if you use images often.
4. WordPress Image Uploader Offer Few Options
You could also edit the dimensions of each inserted image using the pre-selected radio buttons offered by the WordPress media inserter; but those aren’t customized to fit your unique blog, and there are few ways to change those options (See this tutorial on adding more image options to the WordPress media uploader).
5. Down Sampling Kills Resolution
You can use image dimensions small enough to fit within your content column, but that requires a desktop editor and alot of work on the image before you push that upload button. It also forces you to down-sample the image, which will then pixelate and look horrible when enlarged or viewed at its original dimensions.
The Benefits of Light Boxing Your Images
The light box effect allows visitors to view your images in a pop-up modal window, for which you can customize the settings and standardize how images are displayed across your entire site, regardless of the original image dimensions.
Light boxing keeps viewers on your site and adds nice formatting to the pictures you display. You might not have realized it, but all the images on this site are lightboxed. Clicking on an active image open the lightbox. Try it with the image below.
Light boxes can also display social media buttons, which encourages sharing of your images (and your site).
Light Box Settings are Easy to Configure
Most light box plugins have options panels where you can easily configure settings like:
- height and width of light boxed image
- background color of light box window
- image captions or extended descriptions
- image links can be customized
Some light boxes also work with multiple images and WordPress gallery functionality, allowing visitors to view your photos in a pop-up slide show. The image below shows the PrettyPhoto Lightbox which allows WordPress gallery views with thumbnail images of the gallery and easy switching between them.
Most lightboxes allow a slide-show effect, by which you click on the active image in the lightbox and it will cycle through all the lightboxed images on your page. Try it with the lightbox below. Click the image to open the lightbox and then continue clicking on the image inside the lightbox to scroll images.
A Few Light Box Plugins to Get Your Started
It’s easy to get started with light box; simply download one of the following popular plugins and you’ll be on your way.
Pretty Photo Lightbox
Makes viewing photo galleries easy inside a lightbox, with an options page to control settings of the window and photo displays.
Download plugin: Lightbox Gallery
A full featured lightbox plugin which also works with video, forms, and external content. Can change window colors and also dims the background when lightbox is in use.
Download plugin: Lightbox Plus
What’s your favorite lightbox plugin or script?