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How to Fit Wide or Panoramic Images on a Website

How to Fit Wide or Panoramic Images on a Website

How do you display a very wide or panoramic image on a responsive website, when the width of the website varies between very narrow (mobile website) to very wide (ultra wide monitors)?

What Size and Dimensions Should My Panoramic Website Images Be?

Finding images that are large and wide enough to stretch across even the widest browsers can be a challenge. Depending on the display width, dimensions and resolutions, parts of the image will be cut off. As the display gets wider, more of the top and bottom of the image get cropped. As the display gets more narrow, more of the left and right of the image get cropped. So if it's an image of a close-up shot, important parts of the image may get cut out, making these wide, panoramic images better suited for photos that are taken from farther away and don't have any text near the edges. And of course, the image to be used must be in landscape orientation (wider rather than tall) instead of portrait orientation (taller rather than wide).

How Should My Panoramic Website Images Get Cropped?

Figuring out how to size and crop the image properly involves some math. There are websites that can help, but they can be confusing and complicated. Your best bet is to work with a web designer who knows how to properly optimize your images so you don't have to. If it's not done correctly, your website images could end up looking distorted, blurry or pixelated, as well as slow down the loading of your website (and website speed is a major Google search ranking factor).

See Panoramic Image Dimensions Change in Real‑Time

The best way to see how display size affects the wide image at the top of this page is to adjust your browser's width. This is also a great way to see how a responsive website's formatting changes based on screen size.

  1. On a PC-based desktop or laptop (these instructions may or may not work for a Mac), open your internet browser and hit the Alt key then the Space key simultaneously. This will bring up a menu on the top left side of the browser window. If the "Maximize" option is greyed out, then left‑click the "Restore" option. If the "Restore" option is greyed out, go to next step.
  2. After your browser window is out of Maximize mode, hover your mouse over the right edge of the browser window, directly to the right of the scroll bar.
  3. When you've reached the edge of the browser window and the white arrow mouse icon turns into a black line with arrows on both ends, hold down the left mouse button and drag your mouse to the left or right to make the browser window narrower or wider.
Examples

Panoramic and Wide Images on Website This image is 1900 pixels wide. If the display size is over 1900 pixels wide, the image gets enlarged. Too much enlarging can make an image blurry, but most monitor widths max out at around 2500 pixels. Extra widescreen monitors themselves are a panoramic shape, so the top and bottom of the image must be hidden. This is why wide images on a website shouldn't be taken up close, or else important parts of the image on top and bottom will get cropped out.
Panoramic and Wide Images on Website The same image as the previous one, but with nothing hidden. The image takes up the entire top of the website, so the user has to scroll to see the beginning of the body text, which is not ideal. In fact, the rest of the image continues to extend well below the bottom of the browser window, requiring the user to page down not once, but twice.
Panoramic and Wide Images on Website At a smaller screen width (like 1366px), you can see more of the top and bottom of the image than you can in the first example.
Panoramic and Wide Images on Website As the screen width gets more narrow (this one is 950px), more of the top and bottom of the image shows, but the left and right side of the image start getting cropped.
Panoramic and Wide Images on Website Once the display size is under 500 pixels wide, the 1900 x 1000 pixel image (with a file size of 247KB) gets swapped out for an identical 500 x 320 image (with a file size of 33KB) that loads more quickly.
Panoramic and Wide Images on Website At the smallest mobile display (300px), you see the full top and bottom of image, but the sides are cropped.
Panoramic and Wide Images on Website The image in the previous example, with the entire image fitting into the space, and no cropping. But the image looks too flat, because the image itself is very wide. It could be solved with a third swap if showing the cropped out elements on the left and right side were important.

Panoramic and Wide Images on Website
This example shows what you might see on your screen...
Panoramic and Wide Images on Website
And this example shows the actual size of the image. The areas of the image outside of the red box are hidden from view. The areas that are shown or hidden will change depending on browser width, display resolution, screen size and dimensions, device, etc.
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