Header images on Medium

Owen Blacker
3 min readOct 18, 2015
Flying high. A beautiful image by Cristian Baron on Unsplash and, thus, licensed CC0.

One of Medium’s designers, Marcin Wichary, wrote several helpful pieces explaining the changes that have come with the recent Medium Update. In particular, he wrote at length about UI changes made in order to make Medium work better for the majority of readers — who access the site on smartphones and tablets, rather than on larger screens.

One thing that seems to have changed, but I can’t see mentioned anywhere, is that I can’t set an image to be a full-bleed background with a heading over it anymore.

I’ve used that [pretty well, I thought] to æsthetic effect in most of my older pieces on here, which aren’t any more difficult to read on mobile as a result:

But I can’t make images become backgrounds anymore. Is this deliberate?

I can’t see it mentioned in any of Marcin’s pieces. I can think of several ways in which a problem on mobile could be worked around.

Am I doing something wrong?

Edited to add: It would appear that yes, I have missed something — it wasn’t mentioned in any of the pieces I could see in Medium Update, but:

We no longer offer the option to put text over a title image.

This change does have a reason: More people are reading on their phones and mobile devices than ever before. …

We want to make sure that what you create is presented clearly, cleanly, and consistently across all platforms. There are certain things that look good on the web that don’t on mobile devices. And having the text over the image was one of them.

This then links to Marcin’s original piece, to which this piece is a reply. This is particularly disappointingly, given Marcin doesn’t mention this change at all.

Personally, I don’t agree that having text over the image doesn’t work on mobile — it’s a common look and feel used across the web. Perhaps Marcin and his team will expand upon this change sometime soon.

Screenshots are all taken by me, in Google Chrome on Microsoft Windows. While they are derivatives of Medium and, thus, subject to Medium’s copyright, they are used without permission, ostensibly for the purpose of criticism and review under section 30(1) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the author’s belief that this constitutes fair use by way of criticism and comment in the meanings of 17 USC §107. The header image I’ve used is by Cristian Baron on Unsplash and, like all images there, is licensed CC0.

This article is dedicated to the public domain under the terms of the Creative Commons Zero licence. Please translate, copy, excerpt, share, disseminate and otherwise spread it far and wide. You don’t need to ask me, you don’t need to tell me. Just do it!

Owen Blacker

🇪🇺🏳️‍🌈🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿♿⧖ Mainly-gay, mainly-Welsh political geek; proud social justice warrior+trans ally. @WikiLGBT, @OpenRightsGroup, ex- @mySociety. he/him