How to Optimize Your Website Images
In today’s digital age, your website isn’t just an afterthought. This is how you represent your brand and attract interest and potential customers.
As a web consumer, you expect certain things from a website – ease of use, good design, quality images. When it comes to creating one yourself, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with all the work it takes to make sure your site ticks each of these boxes. And then there’s the task of actually putting it in front of viewers, which goes far beyond finding the right model or landing the right designer.
Image optimization is one of the best behind-the-scenes practices that is essential for a website’s performance and rankings. It’s simple but easy to forget – and vital for a successful website.
Your site’s design and performance depends on image optimization
Optimizing your website images means using high-quality visuals that are the ideal format, size, and resolution to increase user engagement. This ensures that your content loads quickly and is easy to navigate.
Image optimization also involves accurately tagging your website images so that search engines can find and understand your page content, key to improve your SEO ranking. This process can include everything from how you label your images, to the words you use in titles, to where you put things on a webpage.
Because image optimization affects how a website looks and behaves, it means that when done right people will find your website and they will have a better user experience when they will get there.
Now that you know how image optimization affects a website, let’s talk about how to do it.
Choose the right file type before downloading
The first step when working with an image is to choose the file type that best suits it. Most images on the Internet fall into one of three types:
A PNG (Portable Network Graphic) file stores graphics on websites. This format is ideal for digital art, especially flat images like logos and icons.
A JPEG file is an image saved in a compressed graphics format standardized by the Joint Photographic Experts Group (hence “JPEG”). This file format is best for photos because most digital cameras use JPEG extensions as a reference.
GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) files can contain multiple images at once. For this reason, they are used to create simple animations through a flipbook-like process.
Reduce image file size
All of the above image file types display static images where each pixel has a defined color, position, and proportion. Because they’re static, however, you can’t resize these images, you can only stretch them – which often makes them blurry and pixelated.
Large, high-resolution images take up storage space and slow down your site’s load times, which is a quick and easy way to scare away potential web users. Also, all that extra information does little to improve the display of your image when it finally loads for the viewer.
On the other hand, if you choose an image that is too small for the space, it will appear distorted and blurry, which is not ideal for establishing credibility. Smaller file sizes work best when you want to send an image to someone to look at.
So make sure you have the right file size you want to work with when creating your web content. You can resize images by adjusting the pixel dimensions using photo editing software like photoshop Where Lightroomthat allow you to tailor the image to your space without sacrificing quality.
Optimize image alt text
Alternate text is the written copy that appears in place of an image on a web page if the image does not load on a user’s screen. Alt text is the easy-to-understand description of the image, and it makes it easier for search engines to crawl and rank your website, making it visible to more potential customers.
One of the great benefits of alt text is the role it plays in helping visually impaired readers understand your content when using screen reading tools.
By making sure your alt text is detailed and accurate, you’re not only helping to create a more inclusive website, but you’re also expanding your network for important and potential customers.
Here are some tips for adding alt text to your images:
Add alt text to all non-decorative images.
Be brief and descriptive.
Don’t include “image of” or “photo of” in the text – just describe what the viewer will see.
Ask yourself if the page would also be understandable if you were to swap the images with their text alternatives.
For linked images, make sure the alt text describes the action that will take place when the viewer clicks.
Image compression refers to reducing the size of a graphics file without reducing the quality of the image in such a way that it is noticeable. Compression is an important part of image optimization because smaller files use less memory space and allow your web pages to load faster.
Compare these two compressed images:
Generally, if you are using an image for your website, you should use some compression. For JPGs, a quality between 70-90% usually strikes a good balance. Programs like Adobe Photoshop offer tools to help you easily compress images.
Describe your photos concisely in the source code
Source code, such as HTML on the web, describes the layout of the browser. Web crawlers (search engines) can only crawl properly presented images in the source code. Therefore, if you want your website to appear in Google or Bing, clear image descriptions in your web page code are a must.
Here are some tips for modifying your website’s source code to optimize images:
- Use a program. Web page/site design programs like Adobe Dreamweaver allow you to insert images, set accessibility tags and attributes, and see these elements in your HTML code. This way you can make changes directly in the code if needed.
- Give users appropriate images. An attribute called “srcset” allows you to define a list of different sized versions of the same image and provide information about the size of each. With it, the browser automatically provides users with the best images for their devices (mobile or desktop, for example).
- Delete unnecessary data. Images include metadata – information such as where and when the photo was taken, camera type, etc. – which can slow down your website. It might be a good idea to delete it.
Understand the purpose of your image
Images contribute to your site’s narrative and help users understand your brand, business, or story. Still, too many images can slow down your load times and increase abandonment rates. In reality, statistics show that a one-second delay on the website reduces customer satisfaction by 16%; and that nearly half of users refuse to revisit poorly performing websites.
So what can you do to make sure your site isn’t lacking in conversions and clicks?
Be smart with images. Intentionally curate images that connect with your audience, including thumbnails, which allow users to manage content quickly and easily, and product picturesdesigned to allow shoppers to zoom in and see all the details they need so they click ‘add to cart’.
Better Images, Better Practices, Better Websites
Boost your brand with images that make your website well-designed, accessible, and user-friendly. By designing with image optimization in mind, you will see an increase in user engagement as well as new visitor traffic. Taking the time to implement image best practices also allows your customers, employees and potential customers to associate your brand with quality every time they visit your site.