Thumbnail galleries are one of the first things that made the Web surfing experience more interesting. These are whole pages of preview images, which, when clicked on, became the big ones allowed for fast scanning of the image material on offer and easy access to selected pictures. Chris Heilmann shows you how to create and maintain a thumbnail gallery.
The first and still best way to create and maintain a thumbnail gallery is to create it on the backend. We grab the image material from a database, generate the thumbnails on the fly and allow the visitor to navigate from thumbnail pages to the big picture ones and back with a set of linked templates. This will guide the visitors through the whole image collection, and they can bookmark certain pictures. These galleries are fully accessible –- if we go through the sometimes cumbersome process of adding good alternative text.
These galleries do not necessarily need a database and scripting enabled on the server. Many tools generate static galleries that simply have to be transferred over to the server.
However, thumbnail galleries mean a lot of traffic and -- depending on your page templates and their page weight -- visitors might be annoyed by the reloads when navigating through the gallery. When your server is unable to serve dynamic pages, you also have to transfer a lot of files for each update: the thumbnails, the images, the thumbnail HTML documents and one HTML document for each image.