How I Enhance Law Faculty Bepress Expert Gallery Suite Profiles

The Problem: Default Preview Images Make Bland Profiles

When you upload a document to EGS like the PDF of an article, the default preview and thumbnail image is usually black and white text, and the visual presentation of articles and book chapters can quickly become bland and repetitive.

Example of default PDF upload card view
Example of default PDF upload card view

There are two views that can be enabled: Card View and List View. List View disables thumbnails from being displayed on the main profile page, and Card View displays thumbnails to the left of metadata like title and publication. To toggle between the views, go to the profile’s Account Settings and look for the “Works Display” section. List View is a good option for anyone looking to fit as many works as possible onto the screen, and thumbnail images are still supported and displayed when a user brings up individual works.

Screenshot of Account Settings to choose between Card and List views
Screenshot of Account Settings to choose between Card and List views


Screenshot of a profile with “List View” enabled
Screenshot of a profile with “List View” enabled

The Solution: Create High-Quality Thumbnails for Different Publications

Put simply, the solution to this problem is to replace the default thumbnail image with a higher quality image that represents the publication. While this process adds steps to the profile management workflow, the results in terms of “look and feel” and faculty reception of the profiles makes it worth the additional work. I wish I could say the process was as easy as going to Google’s image search and downloading the perfect thumbnail image, but unfortunately there is a little more to it than that.

Find Your Image Resource(s). Most publications have a logo or other graphic used to identify the journal or publisher, but it is a mix between finding something by using Google’s image search and finding something on a publication’s webpage. There were a few cases that required taking some screenshots (instead of downloading an image file) or otherwise required some creative thinking in order to create a usable image. The overall goal was to find the journal’s title, a crest, or logo and combine that with the organization’s official color scheme as presented on its websites.

Create Thumbnail From Image Resources. In most cases, after gathering the image resource(s) for a publication, I needed to create a thumbnail image that would satisfy the size requirements of the Bepress profile system. Sometimes the publication would have a downloadable image that I could immediately upload to Bepress as the thumbnail, but more often than not I had to create the thumbnail from the different image resources available. I used Adobe Photoshop, but any image editing software with more than basic functionality will work for this project. I keep a template “thumbnail.psd” file saved on my computer to make it easy to jump right into creating a new thumbnail. This template is set up to the required 120 pixels x 160 pixels image size at 300 pixels/inch resolution. Whenever I need to create a new thumbnail, I load this file and start adding image resources into different layers, using the image editing software to help match institutional colors and resize elements that are too big or wide when initially downloaded. From there, I export to a PNG file (optimized for websites) and upload the final thumbnail to the Bepress profile. In some rare cases, for truly obscure publications, or for publications that just don’t have any great graphic or color scheme that would add visual flair to the Bepress profile, I would leave the default PDF thumbnail. Perhaps ironically, I find the black and white PDF image adds something when used sparingly throughout profiles. When that image is the thumbnail for every card on the profile though, it gets to be too much!

Rinse and Repeat! One thing I noticed early on was there was a type of return on investment of time when creating a thumbnail for a publication. For most of the titles, particularly the flagship law reviews, at some point in the future I would likely need to use these thumbnails again. By saving the thumbnails I already created into a directory, I could just go back and re-use the thumbnails whenever I needed to. I decided that instead of proactively creating thumbnails for every potential publication title, I would make these thumbnails on an ad-hoc basis. So far, it hasn’t been a burden to manage, and I think the faculty profiles benefit as a result. If there is interest from the community, I was thinking about setting up a database or repository of thumbnail images that could be used to help others reduce the time looking for and creating this type of supplemental resource – maybe others could add to this, and it could become a truly “crowd-sourced” resource. Stay tuned for more on that later!


Tips & Tricks After Doing This for a While

  • Always try to keep an eye on the file size of images you are uploading on websites and profiles. Small file sizes will load faster for users and consume less data for mobile users. Different image file types can produce different file sizes, and you don’t always have to sacrifice image quality when reducing image file size.
  • If you keep your own repository of thumbnail images on your hard drive, it is helpful to name the file the full name of the publication. You can then just search for the thumbnail later on when re-using.
  • Adding in publisher logos, university crests, and other visual images instead of the text-based publication title makes for more engaging and interesting profiles overall. A mix of different types yields a nice balance and makes profiles easier to browse in my opinion.
  • For books and book chapters, the process is usually easier since most books have covers and graphics produced by the publisher in a thumbnail size. There is not as much reusability as journals, but it has helped in some cases to retain these in my directory of thumbnails in case other faculty authors publish in the same book.

If you’d like to browse live examples, you can look through profiles on the Texas A&M University School of Law Faculty Author Gallery. Hopefully this blog post helps and inspires others to make Bepress author profiles more visually appealing!