Architecture is a collaborative discipline, where a day’s work often involves sharing files, emails, and information in the process of completing a project. Whether you are entering competitions, applying for jobs or getting your work published, being tech-savvy when sharing files is a crucial skill to have—while failing to be tech-savvy can lead to frustrated colleagues, wasted time, and even missed career opportunities.
To help you ensure you're not making any mistakes, we’ve put together a few pointers you can use to share work online more efficiently and effectively.
1. File Sizes
When sharing work online, “less is more” with file sizes. Unlike images for print which need a very high resolution to be seen clearly, images made to be viewed on the web usually only require a much smaller in file size, with smaller files offering the benefit of quicker loading times. While developments such as high-resolution displays have closed the gap recently, remember that even a 4K monitor sports only 3840 x 2160 pixels. This means that unless it’s imperative that the recipient be able to zoom in on your images, anything many thousands of pixels wide will be larger than the monitor and therefore unnecessary and inefficient.
2. Downloading Should Be a Last Resort
In order to respect other people’s time and available hard-drive space, the need to download your images should be a last resort. With so many file sharing services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive offering a way to preview images, people should not have to download hundreds of Megabytes worth of images to grasp an idea of your project.
3. Don’t Show Your Presentation Boards
Presentation Boards are made to be viewed on a wall, not online. The images and text on presentation boards will often be too small to be viewed clearly on an image online, and the need for a large file size to zoom in and browse around will cause recipients a hassle. This relates to the next point:
4. Don’t Put Text in Images
Although the use of text in labeling drawings or diagrams is necessary, the use of long sections of text should be avoided. Descriptions of the project should not be a part of the image, since if you're showcasing your work online you should want the text to be indexable by Google so that it shows up in any searches. It also makes sharing information more efficient if the text can be copied and pasted so it can be quoted or moved to different presentations if needed.
5. Provide Accurate Crediting Info
This is crucial both for the designs themselves and any photos taken of the project. Once the images are circulating the internet, it becomes incredibly difficult to correct any miswritten crediting information.
6. Hyperlinks Are Your Friend
Hyperlinks can be extremely useful when you want to provide extra information, whether that means links to a website, articles or other projects. There will always be more information that you can provide, so hyperlinks allow a convenient way for the recipient to click and learn more at their own leisure.
7. Static Images Aren’t The Only Option
It is important to remember that static images are not the only way we can present our work. Although static images are still probably the most convenient way to distribute information, they are usually not as immersive or attention-grabbing as other forms of presentation. Videos, GIFs, 3D models and even VR experiences are now all possible ways of displaying a project.
8. Be Aware of File Types
It can often be confusing to decide on which file type should be used for which purpose. JPGs are versatile in that they are suitable for both print and the web (although this also depends on the image size, as previously covered.) PNGs are great for web pages as they can have transparent backgrounds, but are not suitable for print. TIF files are large raster files that are usually made for printing, so avoid using TIFs for online use as they will load very slowly. PDFs are a great way to share files as they can view both vector and raster files, but be careful of their color control. Make sure to check whether the file is in RGB color (suitable for web) or CMYK color (suitable for print).
9. Give Permission
It can be useful to be clear on the copyright of images you distribute online, whether by adding a credit (as discussed above) and giving explicit permission to those who ask or by using a creative commons license. This makes it less confusing and risky for others if they want to share and distribute your work. This second point may seem self-evident but, while we're talking about permission, always remember to give permission to the recipient when using a file sharing service so they don’t click a link and find themselves on a page they cannot access.
Images for this article were kindly provided by Andrea Vasquez.