Let’s face it: website optimization isn’t the most crucial part of running a business. But your website shouldn’t be an afterthought: it’s not just a way to define your brand, it’s an opportunity to deliver a best-in-class user experience to your customers.
If you’re running an e-commerce business, great visuals and optimization are both essential. 92.6% of customers agree that visual input is their leading factor in purchasing decisions. And 39% of people will stop engaging if a website takes too long to load.
Many retailers have dazzling visuals that their customers never even see because their website lags or fails to load the images by the time customers click away. Great images can come with a heavy footprint—large file sizes that take a toll on load times and SEO.
Clearly, website speed is paramount, and optimized images make it a lot faster for pages to load. In this write-up, we’ll explore essential strategies for image optimization on the web.
How to Optimize Images for a Website
1. Benchmark the current site speed
Before you dive in, start by running a speed test on your website. We recommend the following speed tests:
This will ensure that you have a good sense of how your website performs at a baseline. If you notice a performance hit from uploading your images, you can strategize for a solution.
2. Choose the correct file format
Now you can begin optimizing your images. The first step is choosing a suitable file format. The most common types are:
a) PNG is ideal for mainly flat images like icons and logos. The format is lossless but you can also configure it to enable “lossy” compression, which will result in smaller file sizes but reduced quality.
b) JPEG is suitable for most photos as DSLR cameras use JPEG as their baseline. The file sizes and quality are heavily adjustable from 1-100%. JPEG is a lossy format.
c) GIFs are animations created through a flipbook-like process. The format only supports 256 colors and features lossless compression.
Caching distributes content fast by storing your files in a proxy server or browser cache. An image caching service preprocesses an image to improve website performance and loading speed. You can also employ caching for static images like backgrounds and low-resolution formats.
4. Optimize alt text
The alt text appears on a user’s screen if images fail to load or if they are using a screen-reader or other accessibility device. Alt text allows search engines to easily crawl and rank your website. By ensuring your alt text is detailed and accurate, you can capture a much wider audience for your website and make it easy for users who are blind and low-vision to access your content. Alt text should be snappy, descriptive, and attached to all non-decorative images.
5. Resize your photos
One of the easiest ways to optimize images for the website is to resize them before you upload them to the website. Especially if you are using DSLRs, the raw images will be huge. Resizing images helps the site load faster to create a good user experience. You want a good balance between file size and quality. You can resize images manually or use a trusted tool like the AI-powered autoRetouch to resize images automatically and in bulk.
Pro tip: Export images at 2048 px wide and 240 DPI resolution.
6. Compress your images
Leverage compression techniques to reduce the size of the image. There are two types of compression:
· Lossy Compression
This type of compression reduces file size by deleting data redundancies, which may also reduce image quality. Once you compress the picture, you cannot retrieve the eliminated data. When using lossy formats, you should store a master copy of the image to ensure that you always have a high-quality version.
· Lossless Compression
Lossless compression prioritizes quality over size. Lossless formats maintain high visual quality, so you never need to worry about grainy images. The tradeoff, however, is significantly larger file sizes.
You can employ the following image compression tools:
7. Optimize image delivery
Once your images are optimized, you can go even further by optimizing your image delivery as well. Before launching your website, plan for traffic spikes that could result in slowdowns. Ensure that your image server can handle three to four times the average traffic load.
Another strategy is to use a Content Delivery Network (CDN). CDNs deliver images to users from servers that are close to their physical location, improving load times. CDNs are widely available and are a great way to bump up site performance.
Advantages of Image Optimization
The benefits of image optimization include:
1. Reduced bounce rates
Visitors are more likely to stay on a page that loads quickly. Think about it—how long are you willing to wait around for a website to finish loading?
2. Reduced costs
Bandwidth costs money, and optimization ensures that you need as little of it as possible. Thus, optimizing images is a cost-saving solution for website hosting and delivery costs.
3. Improved search ranking
Google and other search engines consider page load time a ranking factor, so optimizing images lead to higher rankings and thus more traffic.
4. Improved customer experience
Even if they don’t leave your website outright, users will be unsatisfied if your website is laggy. Improve engagement and conversion by ensuring that your site is well-optimized.
Image optimization is a massive part of building a professional website, and it can lead to substantial improvements in conversion and site speed. Faster websites are also critical for SEO, so when you start optimizing images for the web, it can easily boost discovery for your website as well. The great news is, that you can easily tackle image optimization on your own without too much time and effort—and if you need a little extra help or a time-saving solution, there are excellent tools out there to get you started.