Why You Should Still Optimise Your Images for the Web

Image Optimisation
As a long established provider of UK Reseller Hosting we deal with lots of web designers.
One thing that never fails to amaze us is the number of them who pay absolutely no attention to image optimisation – one of the core fundamentals of good website design.

History of Image Optimisation

In the early days of the WorldWideWeb it was absolutely crucial to optimise your html and any images (if you chose to use any) because the majority of users connected with dialup speeds ranging from 9600 baud to 56k – painfully slow modems, with even slower oversold and overcongested ISPs.
Even the best optimised webpages seemed to take an age to load, but people would wait because they wanted the information and no-one knew it was supposed to be faster.

Fast-forward 10+ years and more and more people have broadband with connection speeds barely imaginable back then.
Large images, audio and video can now be downloaded at speeds approaching 100Mb/s on home connections.

Reasons to Optimise

Despite headline speed improvements and massive advertising campaigns by ISPs, the truth is that the majority of internet users worldwide are still accessing the www at dialup speeds, even if you’re not.
So does this mean we can all forget about image optimisation ? Absolutely not !

  • users no longer tolerate slow loading pages and have millions of sites to choose from if yours isn’t “instantly” in front of them
  • almost 50% of internet access is now through a mobile device – smartphones and tablets (even with 3/4G) are incredibly slow
  • home and business networks now have dozens of connected devices sharing the same connection – impacting speeds and creating bottlenecks
  • search engines now take page-load time into account for rankings
  • not everyone has (or will ever have) ultra-fast fibre-optic broadband which is actually delivered down the *copper* telephone wire or *steel* tv cable

What good is a graphic-heavy, poorly optimised website to these users? None at all.
Nobody wants to sit there waiting for your page to finish, while each image loads line by line – if you’re not getting “eyballed” inside of 2 seconds they’ve got bored and gone elsewhere – your website is a very small fish in a very large pond of possible pages for them to visit.

Real Benefits from Website Optimisation

Optimising your images gives you 3 tangible benefits:

  • Improves end-user experience – no shop would deliberately make potential customers queue outside in the rain when they want to spend money – so don’t do it to them online
  • Reduces your hosting bills – bandwidth costs money, plain and simple. The better optimised your website and images are, the less bandwidth and disk space you are going to use
  • Increases search-engine rankings – when you stop being penalised for a slow loading site you get positioned higher

Conclusion – Taking the time to correctly optimise your images will lead to more visitors, more sales and less expense – win-win-win !

Useful Resources

Image Optimisation Tools for your Desktop

For PC/MAC: GIMP a freeware image manipulation program for Windows and Mac.

Image Optimisation Tools For your Content Management System

Joomla Extensions: Joomla! Image Optimzers
osCommerce Addons: Auto Thumbnailer
Drupal Module: Image Picker
WordPress Plugin: CW Image Optimizer

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