Not only smaller - also blurry. And unreasonably small.
The purpose of a project preview is to understand the project well enough to see if it is one of interest. Clicking on a project should be to understand in depth - not to figure out what the project is.
Exactly. People don't want to click on a blurry thumb to see what the project is. They want to know what the project is and then click on it if it is interesting to them. On the old site I might click on 1 / 50 projects to see the details. Am I going to click on 50 blurry thumbnails to see if there is an interesting project? No.
I was on a woodworking sub-forum on a social media site the other day. The discussions were not interesting (not a LJ level of expertise to learn from!) but each thread [project] started with a bright big picture. You could just scroll through the threads and see all the projects in full resolution easily. Its not good when a generic social media site can display woodworking projects better than LJ.
Just show full screen width pictures, natural aspect ratio with a title above the pic and the creators name as the legend, one project on top of each other. With the quality of work on LJ, it would look great, and it is so simple. Should really be the home page of the site. Visitors would get there and say Wow, I want to be able to make stuff like that.
Regular users can enjoy each others work without 50 clicks.
To me its a no-brainer, and a huge missed opportunity for LJ. A victory of bean counters over common sense ..... but you can cut costs as much as you want, you still need people to come to the site to generate revenue.