Optimize Your Images for Faster Page Load Times Through Image Compression

image compression to reduce image size

For any business website, fast page load times are critical to the user experience. Users will not want to use your site if they have to wait five or ten seconds for it to fully render a page. However, every good modern web design makes use of images—be they products, logos, or artwork—to make sites more aesthetically appealing and visually informative.

Image optimization is the key to solving this tension between load speed and rich content. By reducing the file size of images on your webpages, you can lessen the amount of data that must be transmitted to each user’s device. Less data means faster page load times . Luckily, systems like the LXR Image Compression Tool allow you to make image files smaller without compromising the quality of the picture. We will discuss each of these points in more detail below.

What is Image Compression?

Image compression is the reduction in the size of an image file. A compressed image will have less digital data than an uncompressed image, meaning it will consume less space on a computer’s drive or central server. For instance, an original image may take up 3 megabytes (MB) of space while its compressed version only takes up 2.3 megabytes. The amount by which the size shrinks depends on the particular image and the compression system you use.

Different compression schemes affect the image in different ways. Lossless compression shrinks an image’s file size without eliminating any of the underlying data. Essentially, lossless algorithms determine a way to represent that underlying data in a different way that takes up less space. However, this type of compression does not lower file sizes as significantly as lossy compression . Lossy algorithms discard some data from the original image in order to make the file significantly smaller. This process can introduce artifacts or “noise” that decreases the quality of the image. However, many lossy compression systems lead to little visible reduction in image quality at normal image sizes, making them a good tradeoff. 

 As a note, certain image types use compression natively. For example, the widely used JPEG format has built-in lossy compression that eliminates some detail from the original scene. However, these file types can still be shrunk further using compression tools. On the other hand, many higher-end cameras are capable of shooting images in “raw” formats (sometimes written as “RAW”) that do not perform any compression. However, raw image files tend to be very large and lack interoperability with many programs; photographers generally convert images to compressed formats at some point in their workflow.

How Does Image Size Impact SEO?

Using smaller image files on your website will make its pages load faster. Every piece of information that your website displays—text, images, hyperlinks, etc.—must be transmitted via the Internet to the user’s web browser. Text, even in large quantities, takes up very little digital space and thus transmits quickly. Images are orders of magnitude larger than text; accordingly, they take significantly longer to travel to the user’s browser. Thus, it is important to pay attention to image size on your website. By reducing image file size using an online system like the LXR Image Compression Tool, you can increase your page load speeds.

 Websites that load quickly are likely to appear higher in search engine results. Google announced in 2018 that it would directly factor load speeds into its page rankings on mobile devices. Load times also indirectly impact search engine rankings by shaping the user experience. Users expect quick load times—two seconds or under is ideal, with three seconds severely stretching the average user’s patience. When users spend more time on websites with better load times, the rankings of those websites on Google results increase.

 Image size also has an impact on a user’s hardware. Web browsers must store a page’s information in memory, which is a limited hardware resource. The Google Chrome browser is noted for consuming large portions of a computer’s memory , especially with many tabs open simultaneously. This can cause Chrome to crash or slow down, especially on lower-end machines with less memory. Users may thus avoid websites with unoptimized images because they slow down or crash web browsers.

Free Image Compression Tool

The LXR Image Compression Tool is a free online system for lowering the size of JPEG images. Users can simply upload an image directly from their computer and compress with the push of a button. The tool will show the original and new file sizes, as well as allowing the user to download the newly compressed image. 

If you have images of other filetypes that you want to compress using the LXR tool, converting them to JPEGs first should be straightforward. On Macs, PNG images can be switched to the JPEG format by changing the image’s name from “image.png” to “image.jpg”. On Windows machines, you can open the image in a viewing program and “Save As” a JPEG copy. Similar processes should work for most common image file types. Consult online documentation for your operating system if you are unsure. 

Written by Stephen Phillips, ELITE Intern

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