Featured image is important for your website and you need to understand why you should use it and how to design them. I will now present what I have found out in my research.
How to make a featured image in WordPress
When I started this blog, I just had some pictures that I thought was describing as featured image. Sometimes I didn't find an image that would fit so I didn't set a featured image at all. I want my blog to be enjoyable and professional.
I needed to find more info about featured image and how to use it. Time to research and write what I found out!
I started my search and found some tips, the best one was at thrievethemes.com. I use their theme and some plugin and they have some really good articles that have helped me.
What I learned was to follow a plan so I did the same on every featured image. When you as reader scroll down my article feed, I want you to see consistency and professionality. So I have now learned that there are 3 good ways to do this:
- To have a picture with a random color that I change from post to post with A describing icons or shapes in the middle.
A picture with a random color and describing icon as above, but also with a describing text.
A stock picture with a describing text. To ensure the text is visible you need to have a background color on the text or have the images opaque at about 50%.
What I did was to choose solution 3. I don't have an easy way to find icons and shapes to make good images. For me, it will be easier to find a stock photo. To find the correct opaque, place the text in correct place for optimal visibility will for me take too much time. The most important with my post is the content, not the featured image.
Want to start a blog? Read my guide here.
The size of the image
This was another aspect I need to choose. I found what the theme suggested, but they suggested the width only. What about the hight of the image?
So I downloaded some featured images from other sites where I know who the owner is experienced. I also checked if the image was resized by HTML code. Some blogs use too big images for my taste, so I picked the one that I found was the nicest of them. I went for 1200x460.
What confused me was that this is not optimal width for my theme, also not for the person that I chose this size from. He has the same theme as I use, but it seems to work without gtmetrix.com is complaining about the wrong size on pictures. It seems optimized and then I'm happy.
I use a free membership in Canva to make my featured images. I have half of the image with an almost random color that I change from post to post. I will reuse the colors and change between 5-6 different ones.
I need to work with the describing text. Sometimes I use the main headline and that is wrong. The headline is already below the picture so no need for that. I need to have compelling text that makes the visitor curious and want to click on the image. Sort of a second headline. This is something you need to do if you want to start your own site.
What is the purpose of the featured image?
You are on a site where you go to a category or archive and you see a list of headlines. Do you find it compelling and want to read more? Or do you think this seems a bit boring? A describing picture with maybe a describing text will break up the list a bit more and make the articles stand out.
A featured image is also known as post thumbnail. This image will be a summary of the content. The meaning is to pique interest and maybe spark conversation about the article. So if you want to have a picture to describe your newly written article, the featured image is the one that should do that. And also do not forget it looks more professional and beautiful.
With social media, the featured image is more important. If someone shares your article, the featured image will be the image that represents the article. Most social media is very visual and a describing image will make more people click on the link.
The featured image will also be placed on the top of the article, often above the headline. This is something you can choose in your theme and inside the post you write. At least in my theme.
Where do I set featured images in WordPress?
First, you have the settings for your theme. Here you often find how the behavior for the featured image is. Will it be visible? How will it be visible? And maybe more settings that I don't have.
So for setting your featured image, you find this at the bottom of the sidebar when you writing or editing your post or page. Then you see the media screen where you can choose your existing featured image or upload a new one. I usually need to upload a new one and I never (or very seldom) reuse a featured image.
Is it possible to add featured image to the category in Wordpress?
When we are making this beautiful featured images and want to make our sites perfect, we also want to add to the category page. This is not so easy.
WordPress does not support this and I don't know if there is a plan to do it. What you can do is to download some plugins that do it. Since I have not tried anyone, I don't want to recommend some. You need to test this, but please come back and tell us what you find out.
What you can do is to place an image yourself as you usually do in posts. This is possible, but the image will not appear on the top.
A featured image in categories is also not so important. Categories are often in the menu. When you click on the menu, you want a list of the articles that are written, not another big image. The featured images to the articles that are written are usually more than enough.
Why you need to use a featured image
My research has shown that the featured image is important and should be made. It's not more important than the content, but you don't want to update 30 articles with post thumbnails. You do it after you have written the post.
Here are some reasons why you should use featured images for your WordPress site’s content:
- They tell visitors what your content is about before they need to read anything.
- This is an easy way to make your articles extra interesting to your visitors so they stay longer.
- Featured images indirectly improve SEO since visitor will stay longer and read more articles.
- They give readers an easier way to find what they are looking for.
- Gives the eye break from all that text and gives structure to your blog.
- They reinforce the consistency of your web design.
- You should use high-quality and memorable photos that improve your brand reputation.
- Will improve the click-through rate of your articles when shared on social media and in news aggregator feeds.
I hope you have learned something about the featured image and will be able to make a strategy on how you will make them. So how do you plan to do it?