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« Graphic Design versus Web Design | Main | HTML Text and Web Site Content »

Optimizing Your Web Graphics and Images

Does Your Web Site Load Quickly?

Users have never wanted information so quickly on the Internet. In a previous article I examined the user attention span.  One place where companies and site owners can make a noticeable difference in their web page quality is through web graphic optimization. Everyone likes a web page that loads in a minimum amount of time. But a significant number of companies neglect this simple process.

Why Be Concerned with Optimizing Web Graphics?
Optimization is a quick and inexpensive way to reduce the load time of your web site. There are a number of variables involved in getting your site to load in a minimum amount of time.  Optimizing your web graphics is probably the easiest and most inexpensive way to tweak your site.  Fast loading sites also contribute to higher web site usability.

What’s Involved in Graphic Optimization?
In optimizing web graphics you are reducing image quality.  The compression algorithms take information out of the image and reduce the overall image size. You can start with a 250K image and through optimization reduce it to 35K.

One argument I hear is with high speed Internet there is less of a need to optimize web graphics.  This is a dangerous assessment that hurts many companies online. Web Graphics have a significant relationship to page load times. Web page load time is an important metric in relation to bounce rates.  People have very little tolerance for slow loading pages.

Optimization Suggestions
Our recommendation is to keep your pages under a 100K each. The key to good optimization is reducing image size without diluting picture quality.  Try to reduce your original image size by approximately 50%-80%. You’ll have to experiment a bit to find the right amount of compression.  If you compress the image and it starts to look lousy you’ve over optimized. You can use either Photoshop or Fireworks.  There also a number of inexpensive or free programs for image optimization. Search Google for “Web Image Optimization” and you’ll find a number of options. Make sure you backup all your images before modifying or optimizing them.  Once the graphic has been optimized you can’t increase the image quality.

As a side note; you need to also take into account server load time.  You can have all your web site graphics optimized. But if your server is slow, the benefit is significantly reduced. Talk to your hosting company and ask them to check your server response time.  They should be able to quickly tell you if something is wrong.

In conclusion I’ll leave you with this food for thought:  Nobody will complain or "pat you on the back" if you have a quick loading web site.  At the same time users probably won’t complain if it takes too long to load. They’ll just stop coming to your web site.




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