It's no longer a secret that images are indeed an invaluable asset to the worldwide web. From envisioning data to breaking up paragraphs of text to flaunting your portfolio, photos and graphics are an integral part of most website designs and help users have incredible online experiences.
However, high-quality resolutions come at a hefty price. How?
Well, with great resolutions come larger file sizes and even greater loading time. Therefore, having great visuals can, in fact, take a toll on your website.
Although, the whole point of adding images to your website is to create a better user experience, which is pretty much impossible to achieve with a slow-loading website.
Now the question is, how does one provide a great user experience with low-quality images? How does one maintain the right balance between the website performance without actually compromising with the visual design?
The answer is simple: By optimizing website images.
Read on to dig deeper!
What is Image Optimization?
Image optimization is the process of composing high-quality web images with the correct format, size, dimension, and resolution while keeping the minimum possible size. Website images are often optimized and adjusted explicitly to better rank and crawl the website. This includes an adjustment in the image size, image ratio, format, and much more.
Regardless of the kind of website you have, visuals today play a pretty important role when it comes to keeping the visitors engaged or improving website performance. Therefore, image optimization is an art that you might want to master.
Benefits of Image Optimization
- By optimizing images, you can reduce the size without losing image quality. Reducing the file size makes the page load faster. This is important for both SEO and visitors. The quicker the content loads, the slower the images load.
- If the image is too large, Google cannot crawl and index the image. This could be another factor leading to lower rankings. Keep in mind that some visitors are from Google Image Search, so you have to do your best to retain your visitors.
- Another advantage of using smaller image files is the ability to create backups instantly. It also uses less storage space (reduces redundant storage costs) and consumes less bandwidth.
- Once you compress the image size on your website, it will start loading faster, and a faster loading website will undoubtedly improve the user experience. Users will no longer have to wait for a long time for the website to get loaded.
How to Optimize Images?
Although image optimization is more of a what goes behind the scenes, it's unmistakably important enough that you may want to learn at least the basics. Why? First, image optimization helps to improve page load speed and, as a result, boost your website's SEO ranking. Besides, it has the added advantage of improving a user's experience. And, the well-suited alt tags are like the cherry on the cake for the website's accessibility. That's why image optimization is a skill you'll want to learn.
But, how does one optimize images for their website and make certain that their website images load without a hitch? Let's find out!
Before you begin modifying your images, the first thing you need to do is make sure you’ve chosen the best file format. There are several formats you can use:
- PNG – offers higher quality images. However, it has a larger file size. Besides, although it was created as a lossless image format, it can sometimes be lossy.
- JPEG – applies both lossy and lossless optimization. With a jpeg format, you can easily adjust the quality for a fine balance of quality and file size.
- GIF – only uses 256 colors with lossless compression. A gif format works the best for animated images.
Various other formats such as XR and WebP are also available; however, they’re not universally supported by all browsers and hence, not used as often. Therefore, ideally, JPEG or JPG formats work like a charm for images with lots of colors, while PNG format works the best for simple illustrations.
With web images, you need to strike the right balance between size and resolution. Because the higher the resolution, the larger the file size. And a large image often takes up higher bandwidth to load as compared to a smaller one.
Therefore, to make sure your visuals look impressive while having a load time, you should resize your images using any image editing software of your choice and then add them to your website. The resolution itself ultimately doesn’t matter as much as the weight of the image, which needs to stay below 100 kb, or 150kb max.
With the advancements in camera quality and resolution, images tend to get large in terms of size. However, you wouldn't need such a heavy, high-quality image on your website in most cases. Therefore, compressing an image to a lower quality level can be pretty harmless since the human eyes cannot notice any subtle differences.
Although, note that if you go overboard, you may end up with a low-quality image. On the contrary, if the compression rate is not significant, you will have a high-quality image but of large size.
Therefore, try to keep your images at about 150 KB or smaller, and don't go past 100 KB while using a PNG format.
Most people don’t put much thought into naming the images. However, now is the time to leave behind this habit and take some time to name your images appropriately. Why?
For starters, it makes managing the images more accessible. Secondly, it can give your website SEO a boost. How? Well, search engines crawl the names of your image files. Therefore, avoid using generic names and try to include keywords instead. For instance, if there’s a product on your website, you can specify its model in the file name.
Blurry image preview
This step involves forming the impression of a fast-loading, high-quality image by loading the lower-quality version first. That means, while your visitors wait for the website to load entirely, the smaller version of the image will appear. This image will be stretched as per the original size and will seem blurry; however, this only lasts until the full-sized image loads. Although it does require a basic knowledge of CSS, creating the blur-up effect is pretty doable.
Image optimization is one of the factors that determine the ultimate performance of your website. The audience's interest in quick information gathering has led to this unforeseen rise in visual content.
If your website images are not optimized, you risk lower ratings, longer load times, higher bounce rates, and lower conversion rates. Besides, high-quality image optimization doesn't just lead to online success. In fact, image optimization is pretty crucial for improved search engine rankings.
Hence, if you optimize your image right, you can present yourself in a better way and come out as a trustworthy brand. So what are you waiting for? Optimize images for website to eliminate the risk of leaving a negative impact on your users and say goodbye to slow-loading websites!
Editor: Richa Sharma