Downloadables

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Choosing a background

The curious thing about backgrounds is that they shouldn’t be too interesting, because they would distract from the main content. Ideally though they should contain some human interest, which in practice normally means happy-looking people that your target audience will identify with. But pictures of buildings are just too, well, boring.

So we wouldn’t suggest you use any of the images on this page as the background for a production site. They are intended specifically for testing purposes only.

The files are also unnecessarily large — mostly over 1 MB. Again, this is not a good idea for a production site but they are useful for a test site, as this introduces an element of stress-testing. 1 MB plus is extravagant for a web image, but your server should still handle it without any significant delay.

You may also be surprised to see that the images are all in portrait orientation when most screens (except on portable devices) are landscape! This is because of the way browsers scale background images. Essentially they scale the width to fit and let the height adjust accordingly. This means that for a wide screen a large part of the image will be truncated (at the bottom), but as the display area is shrunk, automatically reducing the width, the height reduces as well. Consequently, unless the image is in portrait orientation, when it is displayed on a small portrait screen (such as an iPhone) there will be a large empty space at the bottom!

This also has implications for the kind of images that can be used successfully, but I’ll deal with that, and where you can get them from, in a separate blog post.

Downloading an Image

To download an image, first click on the illustration. A larger version will then appear, scaled by your browser so that it fits the display area. To see the image at its actual size (3264 x 4896 pixels) click it again. You can see that it’s comfortably big enough to work on any reasonable-sized display! Now just right click on the image (it doesn’t have to be displayed full-size first) and select ‘Save image as…’

There is no copyright on these images. Feel free to use them in any way you wish. I’ll try to get some better ones when I have the time.