Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

Grand designs revisited // High resolution is one of the key changes on Sidepodcast this year

Published by Mr. C

Following swiftly on from a recent homepage update, we are now able to make one final change to how we do things around here, ahead of the coming season. This is almost certainly the tiniest of visual tweaks, and, as it will only affect a small number of readers, arguably the least exciting.

Focus group

Here at Sidepodcast we spend a disproportionate amount of time fiddling around with images. Framing, adjusting and endlessly tweaking until they look just right. This process has suited us just fine for about five years, until we redesigned the homepage to better support mobile devices, whereupon the image quality and sharpness promptly fell to pieces.

If you are using a reasonably modern smartphone such as an iPhone, Windows Nokia or any of the many Android handsets (or in fact other devices such as an iPod Touch or Kindle Fire), you will find yourself in possession of a screen with a considerably higher pixel density than your average desktop/laptop. High pixel density (or a Retina Display if you prefer) should offer fantastic quality images almost as detailed as the human eye can distinguish, if only they were provided.

Luckily we have a bit of experience with such things thanks to the F1Minute app, which has supported Retina images since the beginning.

With phones and tablets already sporting hi-res screens (and the iPad may or may not acquire one during its next upgrade), plus the rumour mill suggesting that same technology might come to a laptop near you this year, it's about time we brought such high quality visuals to this site too.

Eye of the hand-holder

To that end, we've updated both the 365 F1 Stories teaser and F1Minute news box-outs on the homepage to support Retina displays. If you're a proud owner of hi-res handset, go take a look now and check out the gloriously sharp imagery in action. Once you've seen the web this way, you won't want to go back.

If however, you are reading this text on a more traditional display, the following image attempts to repeat the effect (sort of, kind of, maybe).

Lots and lots of lovely Force India pixels
Lots and lots of lovely Force India pixelsCredit: Sidepodcast / Force India Images

Look sharp

Question then: Given that high-resolution screens are becoming more prevalent and that the same images still look just fine on older screens, why don't all the images on the homepage look equally good?

Annoyingly, the devices with the best screens are most often connected to the absolute worst connections - 3G speeds or lower. Better quality images require more bandwidth, thus slowing page load time and eating into data caps.

In an ideal world, users on slow connections would be sent smaller, low quality graphics, while anyone connecting via broadband or faster would recieve the best experience, bandwidth overhead be damned. Right now detecting download speed is a little tricky, so we've selected the smallest images on the site to experiment with. As detection technology improves, we'll add more and more high quality images until the whole site looks stunningly beautiful everywhere.

It's worth noting, we couldn't play around with these hi-res images until we had a means of supporting mobile users, which we couldn't do until we re-imagined the homepage, which had to wait until the season came to a close. Now all the pieces are in place, we can build some awesome browsing experiences in 2012. Bring it on.

P.S. When Sebastian Vettel won every race this season and exclaimed "that's what I'm talking about" on his slow down lap... pin-sharp graphics in the palm of his hand, were in fact, exactly what he was talking about. So now you know.

All content in the series 2011/12 site redesign