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awardprogram articles - ask the experts 15th feb 02

What is the optimum size and weight for an award graphic?

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As a general principal, award graphics should be small enough to limit the load time on the recipient's site, but the size and weight should be sufficient to maintain the quality of the graphic. The optimum size and weight of an award graphic, therefore, will vary from award site to award site, from graphic to graphic.

First, the words "size" and "weight" should be explained. When we talk about the size of the graphic, we are talking about its dimensions ( its width and height in pixels. When we talk about the weight of an award graphic, we are talking about its byte-size.

To achieve the optimum size and weight, I would suggest that four questions should be asked:

1. At what point does your award graphic become too small?

For an award graphic to be reflective of its award program, it is often necessary for the graphic to contain certain distinct images or text. A significant reduction in the size of the graphic may result in an indistinct image and illegible text. Remember, the smaller the image the less information it can display, which may reduce your ability to add the names of winners. The optimum size is therefore the size that retains the legibility of text and the clarity of graphics.

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2. How far can the award graphic be optimised without distortion?

The less weight an award graphic has, the quicker the page will load. However, it is important to maintain the right balance between the weight of the graphic and the quality of the image. Reduce the award graphic weight too much and a once beautiful graphic can become distorted, pixelated or grainy. An award graphic achieves the optimum weight when the perfect balance between weight and image quality is achieved.

3. Are you meeting your own criteria relating to graphics?

The optimum size and weight of an award graphic may be determined by the award program's own criteria. If the award program is prescriptive or lays down guidelines for applicants to meet with respect to graphics, then the program should meet its own criteria for graphics

4. Are you meeting the criteria of external organisations to which you belong?

If an award manager is a member of an external body ( such as an awards rating or listing system ) then the optimum size of his award graphic may be influenced by that external body. Often such bodies will be prescriptive about the optimal size and weighting of an award graphic, and meeting these requirements will be a prerequisite to joining and staying joined

In short, the optimum size is achieved by balancing image quality and load-time, functionality and usability, and by taking into consideration not only the criteria you have established for others but the criteria of others with which you have agreed to comply.

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