Photography has become a very important and powerful aspect of website design. Photos are used in website pages, banners, background images, blog posts, etc. Although these are great ways of visually conveying the emotion or message, additional overlooked consideration needs to be addressed when placing images on your website.
Cameras and photography download sites store images in large original file sizes. The reason is the photo may be used for several different needs; digital, print, design, etc.
Uploading large photo sizes to your website has several disadvantages:
- The time it takes to download an image on a page might discourage the viewer from continuing to look at the website. (Lost engagement)
- Search engines might ignore crawling the information on the page if it takes too long to load a page because of a large image size (Missed search engine ranking/exposure opportunity)
- A dramatic increase in overall website size for backups and recovery (Capacity limitations)
Although content management systems (CMS) such as WordPress have taken some steps to breakdown original images into smaller versions for use in different screen sizes. Proactive steps are still required to ensure you are getting the best page speed optimization.
Consider original photo for this blog post that was downloaded online:
Its original file size was 4.9MB with a resolution of 5253 x 3502 pixels. Great for a photo album but too large website viewing or search engine optimization.
The first step is to reduce the resolution size of the photo to 2400 x 1600 pixels (good enough quality for widescreen desktop banners) which reduced the file size to 688KB (85% reduction from original). Big improvement but still too large for website performance let alone search engine optimization.
Using image compression tools can help out significantly. For example, using the “Save for web” feature in Adobe’s Photoshop further reduces the file above from 688K to 150K (97% reduction from the original file).
If you do not have Photoshop, you can use free image tools on the internet such as Resizer. In this case, the file was reduced from 688K to 265K (95% reduction from the original file)
Overall, a dramatic reduction in file size will result in faster page speeds, fewer user drop-offs, and better chance search engines will crawl the page information to place on the search engine.
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