Retina Optimization for Your Website

Thursday - April 25th, 2013

Written by: Jolleen Tran

Retina Optimization for Your Website

With Apple’s launch of their Macbook Pro with Retina Display, the standard for computers might be on the verge of shifting. With more pixels than an HD television, the Macbook with Retina offers users a visually stimulating and crisp experience. Since the technology is relatively new for laptop users, many applications and sites weren’t ready for the Retina release. In fact, many apps and sites had to scramble to ensure that they had versions optimized specifically for the Retina display.

Unfortunately, most sites aren’t optimized for the Retina display and they won’t optimize themselves on their own. While Retina displays may be a small portion of the market share, Apple’s venture into this territory could shift the industry standard. Retina display makes pictures and text pop – but everything comes at a cost, even for web providers. Is your website ready for the scrutiny of a sharper eye?

Prepare Your Site and Apps for Retina

Ensuring that your site and apps are Retina optimized will render a much smoother and pleasant experience for the user. Without optimization, your features will appear blurred and outdated to anyone viewing your site. Fortunately, since this is Apple’s first attempt making Retina a mainstream experience, you still have time to prepare your web presence for the scrutiny of increased pixels. Keep in mind, however, that in those moments where the paradigm is about to shift, it sometimes pays to be ahead of the curve. To optimize for Retina, consider:

  • Doubling the display size of images you upload. This packs more information into a smaller space, making the image crisper and more visually appealing.
  • Use CSS Sprites. This allows you to automatically double selectors and file references across the board in any CSS coding. While Javascript provides its own options, there is nothing to override with a CSS Sprite, and high-resolution assets are implemented immediately. To do this, create a 2x version of the asset Sprite. By doubling the dimensions exactly, you’re preparing the files for the media query of a Retina display.
  • Halve the size of CSS and HTML assets. While you want to double the amount of information that your site provides, you want to shrink the assets. Why? So that the down-sampled bitmap pixels are rendered for full fidelity for the Retina display. This means that the image, file, or text has more pixels to fit the pixels on the Retina display. This ensures sharp, distinguished quality.

The Benefits of Retina Display Optimization

While the coding of CSS and HTML might seem complicated, especially for those who don’t code their own sites, it’s easy to implement and can be automated. In other words, once a script is written, it will take effect throughout your whole site. It’s not as though you have to build an entirely new site from scratch. Best of all, the Retina optimization is compatible on various browsers.

When you prepare your background-size properties for Retina displays, you’re also making your site cleaner and more visually appealing. Remember, consumer trust is largely based on physical appearance and presentation. The sharper and cleaner your sites and apps appear, the more professional and trustworthy your site becomes. And since Retina users are early adapters, any attempt to optimize your presence for Retina display places you ahead of the curve and prepares you for the eventual standardization of this display.

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