Images and Margins: Why the little things have a big impact

Images and Margins: Why the little things have a big impact

Professional looking, engaging images are a critical part of the customer experience (CX) for any e-commerce platform or website. A well shot and processed product image will greatly influence a customer’s buying decision and help in building a good relationship with the brand. Different image attributes combine to give a product an authentic look for a specific digital platform. One of them is the image margin.

What are image margins and why are they important?

The traditional and commonly known margin has been around for centuries since the beginning of writing to help us keep to a certain area of the writing page (or papyrus). Fast forward a few centuries with some tweaks in definition, digital image margins help the customer focus better on the product image without distraction and make the product ‘pop’ out in an engaging way. Technically, an image margin is defined as the shortest distance from the edge of a product image to the edge of the canvas (see figure).

Margins provide an important ‘breathing space’ on the image ‘canvas’ (the space where the image is placed) for browsing customers, making image viewing a comfortable experience and easy on the eyes. An image editor well versed in professional retouching services can keep the right amount of top/bottom or sideways margins (depending on the perspective of the product shot) and give the product a professional, authentic and engaging look. Well used margins help images of products with different shapes, sizes and perspectives to be presented in the most appealing way to a customer.

What’s a good setting for a margin (margin percentage)?

If you are an online seller, you will find that many of the well-known e-commerce merchants ask for product images on a square canvas, e.g. 1000 x 1000 or 400 x 400 pixels (or other common square canvas dimensions). A margin percentage is a fraction of ‘white space’/margins of the total horizontal or vertical length of the canvas on which the product image is placed.

Margin requirements can vary from merchant to merchant but a common range can be 5-10% (top/bottom or sideways). However, for specific product shots and zoom perspectives, this can be 15-20% (more on this below). Studios offering photo editing services will also aim to have smaller margin sizes to optimize image compression and boost website loading times.

Fun tweaks in the margin game

Tweaking canvas, margin and images sizes can get technical but you can have fun experimenting with different images or working with an engaged image editing services provider to make this a learning and enjoyable exercise. Even if you outsource photo editing tasks, it helps to have some basic knowledge about how margins impact your product image.

Generally, if a product shot has a ‘vertical’ image (perspective) then the top and bottom margins should be 5-10% to make the product stand out on the canvas. For horizontally shot products, you can use the same percentage for the horizontal margins.

If you are using a ‘cut off’ image (where a part of the image spills outside of the canvas) showing a specific product detail, e.g. a close-up of a coat collar, then there is no need to use margins (see figure).

Keeping the actual size of the product in mind when editing is important. The product image should have a correct perspective and not be oversized. E.g. when zooming in on small accessories like cuff links, you can use margin percentages of 15-20% to maintain a good level of detail as well as appropriate ‘breathing space’ on the canvas.

No Margin
10% Margin

Along with good content and a well-designed website, professionally shot and presented images are a critical part of the customer experience for any e-commerce platform directly influencing customer retention. Products images from different industries need to be treated and presented differently, from shooting to editing, because a particular product category (e.g. from small fashion accessories to food items to automobiles) will have its own ‘best view’ perspective. This is why, when looking for a photo editing service provider, you should look for companies which are experienced in catering to diverse clients and a broad range of product categories. Some image retouching service providers may be specialized in one particular segment (e.g. those providing fashion photo editing services) but check to see if they emphasize on the small but important factors (like well executed clipping paths and margins, among others) that affect the impact and look of an image.