Why is it critical to optimise images on your website?

Why is it critical to optimise images on your website?

In today's fast-paced world, website speed is a crucial factor in determining the success of your website. A website that takes too long to load can lead to high bounce rates, low user engagement, lower conversions and a decrease in search engine rankings.

Image optimisation is the process of reducing the file size of an image while maintaining its visual quality. 

Page speed affects user retention:
Page speed is a crucial factor in user retention. A slow-loading website can lead to high bounce rates, which means that users are leaving your site without exploring further. According to a Google study, the probability of bounce increases by 32% as page load time goes from 1 to 3 seconds and by 90% as it goes from 1 to 5 seconds.

Page speed affects search engine rankings:
Google has stated that page speed is a ranking factor in its algorithm. A website that takes too long to load will not rank as high in search engine results compared to a faster-loading website. Google's Page Speed Insights tool offers suggestions for improving page speed, and one of the most common recommendations is to optimise images.

Reduced bandwidth consumption:
Optimising images on your website can significantly reduce the amount of bandwidth your website consumes. This is especially important for users with limited data plans, as they may not be able to afford the data usage required to load a website with large images.

Improved user experience:
Optimising images on your website can improve the user experience by reducing the amount of time it takes for your website to load. A faster-loading website means that users can quickly access the content they are looking for, without having to wait for images to load.

Optimising images for your website

Use appropriate image file formats:
The file format you choose for your images can significantly impact page speed. Some file formats, such as JPEG, WebP and PNG, are better suited for certain types of images. JPEGs are best for photographs, while PNGs are better for images with text or graphics. WebP is a modern image format developed by Google that uses advanced compression techniques to reduce the size of images without compromising their visual quality, it supports transparency and animation and can offer a significant improvement in compression efficiency over JPEG. Choosing the appropriate file format for each image can significantly reduce file size and improve page speed.

Compress images:
Image compression is the process of reducing the file size of an image without reducing its quality. There are several ways to compress images, including using online tools, image editing software, or plugins. Compressing images can significantly reduce file size and improve page speed.

Use responsive images:
Responsive images adjust to fit the size of the device they are being viewed on. This means that images will appear appropriately sized on desktop computers, tablets, and mobile devices. Using responsive images can significantly improve page speed and user experience, especially when coupled with an image processer that allows you to perform manipulations such as resizing and quality/compression at different break points within your responsive layout.

Use alt tags:
Alt tags are HTML attributes that provide a text description of an image. Alt tags are essential for accessibility purposes, but they can also improve search engine rankings. Alt tags allow search engines to understand what an image is about, which can improve the relevance of your website in search engine results.

Lazy loading:
Lazy loading is a technique that delays the loading of non-critical resources, such as images, until they are needed. This means that images below-the-fold will not load until the user scrolls down to them. Lazy loading can significantly improve page speed and user experience.

What are the best practices for image optimisation?

Reduce file size:
Reducing the file size of an image is one of the most effective ways to improve page speed. There are several ways to reduce file size, including compression, resizing, and cropping. When compressing images, be careful not to reduce the quality too much, as this can result in blurry or pixelated images.

Use a content delivery network (CDN):
A content delivery network (CDN) is a system of distributed servers that deliver web pages and other content to users based on their geographic location. Using a CDN can significantly improve page speed by reducing the distance between your website and your users and pre-caching some of the site data to reduce the load on the server.

Optimise image dimensions:
Optimising image dimensions is an essential aspect of image optimisation. Always ensure the image is no more than 100% of the size it is going to be displayed at it’s biggest size on the website and this will ensure visitors don’t have to load content that is not required.

Minimize HTTP requests:
Each image on your website requires an HTTP request to load. Minimizing the number of HTTP requests can significantly improve page speed. One way to do this is by using CSS sprites, which combine multiple images into a single image.

Use descriptive filenames:
Using descriptive filenames for your images can help search engines understand the content of your website. Make sure that filenames are relevant and descriptive, and include keywords if possible.

Use descriptive captions and title tags:
Using descriptive captions for your images can improve the user experience and search engine rankings. Captions provide context for images and can help users understand their relevance to the content on your website.

Optimise thumbnail images:
Thumbnail images are small versions of larger images and are often used in galleries or image grids. Make sure that thumbnail images are optimised for their intended use and are appropriately sized.

Test your website:
Testing your website is essential to ensure that it is optimized for page speed. Use tools such as Google's Page Speed Insights or GTmetrix to test your website's performance and identify areas for improvement.

A slow website will impact user experience and ultimately hurt your business. We can analyse your website's performance and provide you with recommendations on how to improve its speed and we can help you optimise your website's load time and improve its overall performance. Contact us if you're looking to enhance the user experience of your website and boost its performance.