Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Making "Pretty" Thumbnail Photos & Helpful Websites

Hello again!

So one of the tasks that I have been given is to create a "pretty" thumbnail photo for the map that will appear on ArcGIS Online as well as on the Collector app.
Generic Automatic Thumbnail

 At our organization, our thumbnail photos for our ArcGIS Online maps are the generic, ArcGIS standard map photos that are given to all thumbnails (as can be seen to the right). Since I had been reading up on how thumbnail photos can really convey the message that your map is trying to send before even actually opening the map, Heather and I decided that it was about time we attempted to create a "pretty" thumbnail photo.

Of course with me starting work in a new topic I had some questions on how to get started creating a thumbnail image, I did not know if there was some type of template that I should be following or if I just could create an image of somesort. ESRI's ArcGIS Blog and GeoNet community are two very helpful websites that I have been turning to for help as I venture along with this project. For any question that I have, or any tricky situation that I encounter, I turn to either one of those websites or I turn to where I can search through hundreds of previously answered(and some unanswered) questions to see if I am able to find a solution. Almost every question I have had thus far, someone else has had this question too and posted it to one of the websites for responses and discussion. I highly recommend using these websites for help and of course I recommend taking a look at the documentation that ESRI provides for each application/tool/etc. My last resort is calling customer service, because a lot of what I have been working on is completely brand new to me, I cannot explain to myself what is going on, let alone trying to explain it over the phone to somebody else. 99% of the time, one of the websites I mentioned can get me out of any ArcGIS jam that I have.

That being said, I found a helpful blog post on ESRI's ArcGIS Blog entitled, "Put Your Best Thumbnail Forward". The author of the post discussed the advantages to having a customized thumbnail for each map in your organization, and explained that for quality purposes, the thumbnail could only be 200 pixels x 133 pixels and in either PNG, JPEG, or GIF format. It appears as though most people who create appealing thumbnail photos are skilled in using graphics editors such as Photoshop. I have no recent experience in Photoshop so that option was out of the equation...I think that the last time I used Photoshop was in my 6th grade Computer Science class...which was a good 10+ years ago. I have experience in editing photos in Paint...which did not seem to work for me, until I remembered that PowerPoint could probably do the trick!

With Powerpoint, I was able to make the size of the slide equal to the 200 pixels x 133 pixels that are needed for the thumbnail photo, by converting the pixel size to inches. While I am not a graphic designer by any sort, I was able to make a decent photo containing the Pad Mount Transformer map, the North Attleboro Electric Department logo and an explanation of what the map contains. It may get tweaked as the project moves on, but for now, here is the new thumbnail photo for the Pad Mount Transformer Inspections map:

New and Improved Thumbnail

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