Optimising Images for the Web: A Guide for Designers
An essential skill for a graphic designer is image optimisation. Every website should include images since they are vital to drawing in and keeping site visitors. Unoptimised images could slow down your website, leading to poor user experience and search engine rankings. Here is the step-by-step guide for optimising images for the web with compression tools and techniques.
Why Image Optimisation Matters
Before knowing how to optimise images, Let's see why optimising the images for the web is essential. There are several reasons to optimise your images:
Faster load times: Images with large sizes could slow down your website, leading to poor user experience. Optimising photos will reduce the file size and improves load time.
Better SEO: Google considers page speed when ranking websites. Optimising your images can improve your page speed and search engine rankings.
Improved user experience: Users are likelier to stay on your website if it loads quickly and smoothly. Optimising your images can improve user experience and keep visitors on your site longer.
Understanding Image Formats: Image formats determine the quality and size of the images; three main image formats are used on the web: JPEG, PNG, and GIF.
- JPEG: JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) is the commonly used image format on the web; It's best for more complex images that require many colours. JPEG image is smaller, making it the best fit for the web.
- PNG: PNG (Portable Network Graphics) is one of the most popular image formats used on the web. This image format is best for images like logos and icons. Typically these files are larger than JPEG format files, but it offers better quality and compression.
- GIF: GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) is an older image format, and it's being used on the web. It's best suited for simple images with few colours, such as animations and logos. GIF files are small and support animation, making them ideal for web use.
Choosing the Right Image Format
Now that you understand the different image formats let's discuss choosing the right one for your web images.
Use JPEG for photographs and complex images.
If you're working with photographs or complex images with many colours, use JPEG. This format lets you maintain the image's quality while keeping the file size small.
Use PNG images if you need transparency.
Transparency images are images like Logos and icons etc. PNG format supports transparent images and helps maintain image quality while keeping the file size relatively small.
Use GIF for simple images with few colours.
Use GIF if working with simple images with few colours, such as animations or logos. This format supports animation and keeps the file size small.
Tools for Optimising Images for the Web
Several tools are available in the market that helps you optimise your images for the web. Here are the best and most affordable options:
Dmarketingacademy.com is an online Free customised Image Compression Tool that supports all the image formats like JPG, JPEG, PNG, etc. You can compress the large-size image to a custom size without compromising the quality of the picture. It effectively compresses images to 200kb and even below.
Adobe Photoshop is a powerful image compression tool that allows you to resize and compress image file size. It also has the feature to save images for the web and automatically optimises the file size.
TinyPNG is an online image compression tool that uses lossy compression techniques to reduce file sizes without compromising image quality. It supports both JPEG and PNG files.
Kraken.io is an online image compression tool that uses powerful algorithms to reduce file sizes. It also supports all three formats JPEG, PNG, and GIF.
Cloudinary is an image optimisation tool that allows one to upload, store, and deliver images. It also has automated image optimisation features, as well as it supports responsive images and lazy loading.
Compressor.io is also a free online image compression tool that supports all formats. Like TinyPNG, Compressor.io also uses a lossy compression technique to reduce file sizes without compromising quality. It's easy to use compared to other tools because of its drag & drop interface.
Squoosh is a free image compression tool developed by Google. It supports all image formats, including JPEG, PNG, JPG, etc. Using these features, you can adjust the image quality and compare differently.
Image compression is the process of reducing the size of an image file without losing its quality. Let's see the compression techniques to optimise web images.
Resize your images
The larger the size of the image, the longer it will take to load. Resizing the photos with the correct image dimension will support and Improves the load time. It's essential to resize your images to the right size.
Use image compression software.
Many software tools in the market can help you compress your images without compromising quality.
Use image sprites
Image sprites are a collection of combined images to form a single image. Image sprites could reduce the HTTP requests needed to load the pictures. This will help to improve your site performance.
Use a content delivery network (CDN)
Content delivery network (CDN) helps to improve your site load speed. By enabling CDN, it will save your website information on all the servers. If a user accesses your site, the data will be served from a closer server to the user. So, it will improve the site load speed and reduce the load time.
Use vector graphics
Vector graphics are created using mathematical equations and are resolution independent. Using VG, you can scale up or down the images without losing their quality (lossless compression). It is best suited for logos, icons, and other graphics. Also, photos will be very clear on all devices.
Consider the image format.
As you have seen earlier, many image file type formats exist, like JPG, JPEG, SVG, GIF, and PNG. Every format has its pros & cons; choosing the correct format will improve your images' quality. For example, JPG is best for photographs, PNG is best for images with transparent backgrounds, and Vector graphics SVG will be the best format.
Use lazy loading
Instead of loading everything, lazy loading will load certain things when needed. This will load one by one of the parts of your website when the user scrolls the page. Based on your CMS, you could enable it using different methods to improve loading speed. For example, WordPress sites have many plugins like Nitropack, WP-optimize, etc.
Minimise HTTP requests
The browser raises HTTP requests to your hosting server to load your site. More HTTP requests longer it will take to load. CSS stripes effectively combine multiple images into a single file, helping minimise the HTTP request.
Consider image caching
Caching is storing the website's data in the user's device. By holding it, data can be quickly retrieved when the next time the user visits. Enabling image caching will improve the website's performance and reduce the load time. Cache plugins are available for WordPress sites.
Use responsive design
Responsive design means the website is user-friendly on all devices such as laptops, mobile, tablets, etc. By making a responsive design, you can ensure your images look great and are well-optimised for all screen sizes.
Optimise for mobile devices
As per a recent survey, there are 5.27 billion Internet users worldwide in 2023. More than 85% of people use the internet on mobile devices. Websites need mobile optimisation to survive in this market. To make your images responsive to mobile devices, use smaller image sizes for mobile devices.
Use image compression plugins.
If your CMS is WordPress, you can use many available plugins, which helps to optimise your images. Advanced compression algorithms of these plugins help reduce the file size and optimise images.
Use image lazy loading plugins.
As mentioned earlier, Enabling lazy loading improves your website performance and reduces the load time. Plugins like Nitropack and WP-optimize provide this feature for free.
Optimise image metadata
Image metadata includes information about the image, such as filename, caption, and alt-text. By optimising your images, metadata helps to improve your website's SEO performance. This will make your images accessible to users with visual impairments.
Use image optimisation tools.
There are some free online tools, like Dmarketingacademy's image compression tool, kraken.io will help you to reduce the file sizes of your images. These tools not only help to compress but also help to convert the images to other formats.
Test your website's performance.
Monitoring Your website's real-time performance is very important. It was one of the proven ranking factors of Google. You can use free tools like Google page speed Insights to analyse your website's performance and identify improvement areas.
Consider image placement
The placement of your images on a webpage can also affect load times and user experience. To improve website performance, consider placing images below the fold or using lazy loading to delay their loading until needed.
Consider the image subject.
The subject of your image can also impact its optimisation. According to your embodiment subject, your file size can be determined. If your file has a simple subject, it will reduce the file size without losing the quality of the image.
Avoid using too many images.
While images are essential for engaging users and communicating information, too many images can slow down your website and overwhelm your visitors. Consider using text or other visual elements instead of images when appropriate.
Use consistent image styles.
Consistent image styles can create a cohesive design and improve user experience. This can include using similar image sizes, colour schemes, and typography across your website.
Use appropriate file names.
While using images, add keywords related to your pictures in the file name. This can help to improve your SEO performance. Using keywords in image file names will rank your images on Google's image search results.
Use alt text
Alt text is a piece of information about the image. It helps visually impaired users to understand what the image is. Adding your targeted keyword relevant to the image is one of the on-page SEO elements. This will help the visually impaired and search engines better understand the value of the image to the content.
Thumbnails are like a preview of your content before you click on it. To optimise your thumbnails need to be sure of the file sizes and that their formats can be loaded quickly.
Monitor image loading times.
Monitoring Image load time is one of the essential aspects of Technical SEO. By reducing the load time, you can optimise the load speed. Using GA, you can track the page load times and spot the areas of improvement.
Use appropriate image quality.
Optimising images for the web is a challenging task. During the process, you must focus on Quality and file size. Using the original image will result in a larger file size. The usage of small file-size images will result in lower quality of the image. So, finding the balance between the quality and file size is vital to optimise the images.
Use web-safe colours
Web-safe colours are the 216 hues that can be displayed on any computer or device. Using web-safe colours ensures your images are consistently shown across different devices and browsers.
Avoid using image sliders.
While image sliders can be visually appealing, they can also slow down your website and create a poor user experience. Consider using static images or other visual elements instead of image sliders when appropriate.
Use image galleries
Image galleries can be used to display multiple images in an organised and visually appealing way. Consider using image galleries instead of numerous individual photos when appropriate.
Use web fonts
Web fonts are used as substitutes for images. It was designed for use on the web and could create more visually appealing text elements.
Use image sitemaps
Sitemaps are the structure of your web pages. Google can easily understand your website using sitemaps. An image sitemap is one type of sitemap that consists of information about images on your website. This can effectively be used to optimise your site's SEO performance.
Use SVG images
SVG images are vector images that can be scaled without losing quality. They can be used for your website's logos, icons, and graphics.
Consider the context
The context in which the images will be seen is essential to understand. For instance, if your website is geared towards photographers or graphic designers your website is geared towards photographers or graphic designers, for example, they would anticipate larger, higher-quality photos. On the other hand, smaller and more compressed images can be more acceptable if your website is meant for a broad audience.
It's critical to keep up with the most recent web design trends and approaches and follow the advice above. New tools and technologies are continually being developed, and the web design business is constantly changing. You can make sure that your website designs are continuously optimised for the optimum user experience by remaining informed and continuing to learn.
Reduce the colour palette.
Using limited colours or reducing the number of colours used in the images could reduce the file size. This technique works best for simple images and reduces their file size without losing quality.
Best Practices for Web Images
In addition to understanding image formats and compression techniques, you should follow a few best practices when optimising your web images.
Use descriptive filenames
Descriptive filenames help search engines to understand your images better. Also, it helps to
Use the Right Image File Format
Choose the correct file format for each image. For photographs or images with many colours, use JPEG. For images with transparent backgrounds or simple graphics, use PNG. For animations or simple graphics with few colours, use GIFs.
Reduce Image Size
The larger the image size longer it takes to load. Making your images to the correct dimensions would lower the size. You can use Image compression tools t reduce the size further.
Optimise Alt Tags
Alt tags describe images for visually impaired users and search engines. Use descriptive alt tags that include relevant keywords to improve your SEO.
Best Practices for Image Optimisation
Here are some of the best practices other than using tools to optimise it for the web:
Start with High-Quality Images
Starting with high-quality images with large file sizes will help save large sizes. Starting with high-quality images also ensures the final output image looks good.
Test Your Images
Test your images on different devices and browsers to ensure they load quickly and look good. You can use tools like Google PageSpeed Insights or GTmetrix to test your website's performance.
Balance Image Quality and File Size
It's crucial to balance image quality and file size when optimising images. As much as you maintain the quality and size of the image, it will help both website SERP performance and User performance.
Keep Your Image Library Organised
Keep your image library organised using descriptive filenames and sorting images into folders. This can make it easier to find the pictures in the future.
Image optimisation is an essential step in designing a website that loads quickly and looks excellent in designing a website that loads quickly and looks fantastic is image optimisation. You can make sure that the photos on your website look great and load quickly by knowing the various image formats, picking the appropriate quality, resizing images, and optimising file sizes.
Remember that in mind that both user experience and search engine optimisation depend greatly on website performance. You may enhance the functionality of your website and provide your users with a better browsing experience by optimising your images for the web. Take the effort to optimise your images to benefit from a quick and attractive website.
How do I know if my images are optimised for the web?
To evaluate the functionality of your website and determine whether your photos are optimised, utilise tools like Google PageSpeed Insights or GTmetrix.
Can I optimise images after I've uploaded them to my website?
You may optimise images already on your website using image optimisation tools.
Can I use the same image on multiple pages of my website?
The answer is that you may use the same image on many websites. You guarantee that search engines can effectively index the photos; just be sure you utilise descriptive filenames and alt tags.
What is lazy loading?
Images are only loaded using the lazy loading approach when they are required. Lowering the number of images that need to load simultaneously can speed up the page load time.
What is a Content Delivery Network?
A network of computers known as a content delivery network (CDN) houses copies of the pictures on your website. Decreasing the time it takes for images to load for visitors in various areas can increase page performance.
What are CSS sprites used for?
An HTML document may access CSS Sprites, a collection of pictures integrated into a single file. Following that, the HTML code for the website uses these photos to show them.
What are image sliders?
An animated WordPress design component called an image slider shows movies and photos on websites. Picture Sliders display one video or picture at a time, similar to a slideshow. Visitors can view the next slide by clicking on it, or the material will update automatically after a short period.