21st November, 2019 6 Min read
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Images, animations, and videos are an important part of the web experience. They are important for many reasons: they help tell stories, engage audiences, and provide artistic expression in ways that often cannot be easily produced with other web technologies. Viewed from marketing and sales perspective, they help bring in web traffic and convert visitors into leads.
Your images need to be high-resolution and crisp. But this comes at a price. Large, high definition images can have huge file sizes. Put a few of these on your site and that seamless experience of navigating your website or online store can quickly deteriorate to the point that frustrates users and causes them to leave.
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Not only will this cause visitors to bounce but, in time, Google will notice as well, and this can affect your SEO.
In any online business, but especially ecommerce, it’s critical to find a good balance between the lowest file size and an acceptable quality. There is more than one way to perform almost all of these optimizations.
In this article we’ll take a look at how you can manage and optimize your images to improve user experience.
Numerous studies have confirmed that more and higher-quality images lead to higher user engagement and greater conversions:
Images often account for most of the downloaded bytes on a web page and also often occupy a significant amount of visual space. As a result, optimizing images can often yield some of the largest byte savings and performance improvements for your website: the fewer bytes the browser has to download, the less competition there is for the client’s bandwidth and the faster the browser can download and render useful content on the screen.
From a pure bytes perspective, HTTP Archive has historically reported an average of two-thirds of resource bytes associated from media. From a distribution perspective, we can see that virtually every web page depends on images and videos. Even at the tenth percentile, we see that 44% of the bytes are from media and can rise to 91% of the total bytes at the 90th percentile of pages.
While media are critical for the visual experience, the impact of this high volume of bytes has two side effects.
Image optimization benefits include:
Here are the most common ways you can optimize the images on your website to improve performance.
Optimize to the smallest file size
The first step is to ensure that every image you deliver is optimized to the smallest file size, ideally by finding the right balance between visual quality and compression. An image’s file size is determined by the total number of pixels (width x height) and the amount of data it takes to encode each pixel (depth).
So, reducing the size means ensuring that it’s the right size for its intended display. Delivering oversized images wastes data, bloating the file size unnecessarily.
Pick the proper file format
The second step is to choose the right format for the image. Different formats result in different types of images. Sometimes, PNG is right for the job; other times, JPG is the best. Keep in mind that modern formats like WebP and JPEG XR are only supported by certain browsers. Ideally, you’ll want to adapt the image to the best format with the smallest file size.
Types of files you can use:
Explanation of mainstream file formats. Source: almanac.httparchive.org
Use lazy loading
Lazy loading images is another term for asynchronously loading images on a web page. It’s the process of having images load after the initial page request. As website visitors scroll down the page, images are loaded as they are needed by the website visitor instead of being loaded all at once when the page is requested. This makes the page load faster initially for readers and makes browsing the site a better experience.
Adapt to your user’s device
Adapt your image to your customer’s device. For example, there’s no point in sending a huge hero image from your desktop site to a customer who’s on a mobile phone. That unnecessarily large image is just a waste of downloaded data. So, be sure to resize the image and send a smaller version by leveraging responsive design.
Images, animations, and videos are an important part of the web experience. In this article we’ve discussed the importance of media content, and how you can manage and optimize your images to improve user experience.
Visitors expect your website to load fast, to be visually attractive and provide them with great user experience. If you want to make sure your website or application is optimized according to the highest standards, contact us today to help you out with your performance and security needs.
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