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I love thumbnails… when they do what they are supposed to do. When I see a thumbnail, on a site or in any context where the context is to view pictures, by clicking the thumbnail (that is – if it is clickable) I expect one single thing.

To see a larger, more high-resolution version, of that same picture. Regardless of it showing up in a pop-up, or on a new web page, or in a new window – I expect the picture to be there in full size.

What really grinds my gears is when that is not the case. I have seen many cases on websites where clicking a thumbnail will either bring you to a web page where that same picture is nowhere to be found. Sometimes, you are brought to a page where you see the same thumbnail, and sometimes, you inconsistently need to click THAT thumbnail in order to see the picture in full resolution.

Example?

Do a google search for any image. I’ll give you a hand. Now, click one of the thumbnails. What do you get? A webpage, showing another thumbnail of that same image, and you know what? It’s probably actually SMALLER than the previous thumbnail! Now you need to click that thumbnail AGAIN to see the full size image.

I understand the argument (which I’m just assuming is there, I haven’t actually heard it) that it’s fair to show the source of the image as well as the image but… you can do that as well. When people look for images on google, they usually want just the image. If they want to know where the image is from, then there should be a link to that page for optional clickage!

Other examples

I’ve seen various sites hosting wallpapers with thumbnails showing examples of their different wallpaper categories. Say, “Ocean Category” and you see a thumbnail of a nice beach. They have a “Space Category” and you see a thumbnail of a couple of planets that you might like. I’ve experienced plenty of times that when clicking the category thumbnail, you are brought to that category’s page (which is rather obvious considering the context) but… where is the image from the thumbnail you just clicked? Shouldn’t it like… be there, even in thumbnail form, in that category? Many times, you need to scan several pages of thumbnails just to find THAT particular image again. I’ve even had cases where that image simply didn’t exist in the category at all, even though it looked just like a shrunken version of a wallpaper.

This is similar to disappointing banners, which had me grind my gears earlier. If you promise something, then deliver. Otherwise, you will either confuse and/or lose a potential client. Even with sites that deliver free content such as wallpaper sites or similar, you should want to keep your viewers happy, because you probably have advertisement banners on your site that you want people to click so that you earn some revenue. Lose viewers, and you lose potential banner clicks, and then you get less interesting in the eyes of a potential ad space buyer.

Gah!

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