In a world where everything moves fast, how long would you wait for a page to load before you closed the window? Unless you had a burning desire to see its content, it wouldn’t be more than 3-4 seconds. Speed is one of the many elements that the bad use of images can affect a website. For that reason, optimizing any image that is used on any website is necessary. Let’s see what optimizing means and why it is of utmost importance.
This might seem simple but if not chosen correctly the file format might have a negative effect on your website’s overall performance. The two most common file formats are JPEG and PNG.
JPEGs have a wider use and are ideal for photographs, banners on the homepage, to portray products, and generally, for the most uses, a picture can have on a website. Their advantage is that they allow gradation of quality from low to very high, so one can find a balance between quality and image size.
PNGs on the other hand, don’t have this advantage, which, combined with the limited color palette they offer, makes them a bad choice for photography or pictures with many elements on them. Where PNGs are extremely useful is logos due to the “transparency” element, meaning they have a transparent background, so they can go on top of any color or picture.
By knowing the properties of each file format, you can choose which is more appropriate for the way you want to use the image and, at the same time, secure a picture of good quality at the smallest size possible. This leads us to our next point.
The file size, meaning the MB or KB and the dimensions of the pictures that are imported on a website can dramatically affect its loading time. By saying pictures we mean photographs, logos, icons and pretty much anything that is uploaded in JPEG or PNG form. All together, they compose a quite large total and it’s becoming obvious why each image needs to have the smallest size possible, ideally less than 100KB.
If you don’t wish to lose visitors due to slow speed, each image also needs to be “saved for web”, a function that is available in tools such as AdobePhotoshop and ensures the smallest possible size. There are also simpler and free tools for the same result, such as Canva, PicMonkey and PIXLR.
Images are part of the content of a webpage. In the same way that the search engines read key words in a text and can bring the website higher in the list of results, they also read keywords that have been used on the imported files.
In plain words, this means that if a picture has been imported with the file title “image259-2020” it’s very unlikely that it will show up in the results of a Google search, as (probably) no one will look up something by typing “image259-2020”. If, however, your files’ title contain keywords relevant to your product or service or your website’s name or, even better, a real description of what is shown in the picture, the chances of your picture appearing in the search results go up and that can only mean one thing: traffic.
In the same way, another important element of imported pictures can bring traffic to your website, the so called “alt (alternate) attribute”. If a search engine cannot display the image, for instance, due to slow connection, it will need an alternative way to explain what is shown in the picture. By adding key words in the alt attribute, once again, the odds of your website to appear get better and you get traffic without any toil or money.
It goes without saying that a website’s performance and how high it scores in search engines depend on much more. However, these are a few basic steps that everyone who handles content on a website should know.
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