Anyone who owns, works with or has seen one of Apple’s retina display devices will tell you that the images absolutely pop—if they are retina-optimized images. If they are your standard, run-of-the-mill web graphics, however, they may appear fuzzy. So the easy answer to the question, “Should you hire a UI designer who can design retina graphics?” may seem like an enthusiastic “Yes.” But make sure to hire a web designer who knows all of the challenges and tricks for this still-growing and developing area of graphic design.
The first thing to note about retina graphics is that they are stunning. No doubt about it; artfully cramming twice to three times the pixels into the same square inch of screen renders shaper, more life-like images, at least on those devices that have a retina display. If you are wondering what a pixel is, there are actually two kinds: a physical or device pixel is the smallest unit of display on your screen. CSS pixels are an abstract measurements browsers use to render the graphics you see on your device. Usually (but not always), One device pixel = 1 CSS pixel.
Smashing Magazine’s Reda Lemeden has a super explanation about exactly how retina-display optimized graphics work, what device pixels and CCS pixels are and how they all work together. So before you hire a web designer, it might be a good idea to look that over and understand what solutions are possible so that you can tell, during the interview process, whether or not your candidate has a solid grasp on the tricks of the trade that will enable him or her to design graphics for multiple platforms and viewing options, including retina displays.
Retina graphics are also problematic, so you need to hire a web designer that understands how to navigate all the tricky spots. Designer Dave Rupert mused aloud that the biggest problem with retina graphics is their file size compared to standard web graphics in a recent article for A List Apart. By doubling or tripling the amount of pixels into the same spot, he explains that you actually almost quadruple the file size. This cripples download times for anyone not using a super-speedy broadband connection (e.g. the vast majority of third-world Internet users, people using wireless connections, etc).
Ask any potential UI designer you meet what their solutions to these problems are. Rupert and many other designers say that using CSS and web type, SVG and icon fonts, and picture-filling raster graphics when necessary helps to optimize the retina and non-retina graphic experience for users across various devices.
Retina displays are clearly the future. Justin Kerr of Newfangled explains that high density graphics will become the norm rather than the exception, so web designers must learn the ropes now. So if you are in the market for a web designer, be sure to look out for one who has expertise in retina graphics creation and adaptation.
For more information on Retina Graphics contact Artisan today
Andrea M is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.
Artisan Talent is a Digital, Marketing and Creative Staffing Firm placing talent in jobs perfectly matched with their skills all over the US.