As websites become more image-based, image loading speed becomes key to website success. End users are unwilling to wait for images to load when they can easily locate an alternative site. In fact, according to a 2018 study by Google, around 53% of users will abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load.
Rather than risk losing customers due to slow site performance, consider using image optimization techniques. In this article, you’ll learn what image optimization is and how it can benefit you. You’ll also be introduced to five free tools you can use to optimize your images.
What Is Image Optimization?
Image optimization is the process of adjusting images to improve storage, transfer, and website performance. It typically involves reducing the file size of images and making them adaptable to a variety of devices.
The most common methods of image optimization are:
Image compression decreases image size by removing redundant or unnecessary data. Data removed can include color variations, metadata, or pixel data.
There are two types of compression that you can perform; lossy or lossless.
In general, lossless compression is preferred for images where maintaining high quality is important, such as photographs or artwork. Lossy compression is often used for images where some loss of quality is acceptable, such as website images or images for social media.
The key difference between lossless and lossy compression is how they reduce the file size of an image.
Lossless compression is a method of image compression where the image is compressed without losing any data. When an image is compressed using lossless compression, the data that makes up the image is rearranged in a more efficient way, without removing any information. This means that the resulting compressed image is of the same quality as the original image, but with a smaller file size.
Lossy compression, on the other hand, is a method of image compression where some of the data in the image is permanently removed to reduce the file size. When an image is compressed using lossy compression, some of the image’s information is discarded, resulting in a smaller file size. This means that the resulting compressed image may have a lower quality than the original image, as some of the detail and information has been lost.
Lazy loading is a technique that only loads images on a website as relevant parts of a page are accessed. The rest of the page is loaded as the user views it. This technique allows you to prioritize image loading according to how a user is browsing your site. If a user does not move to a specific section, that image data is not transferred. A common example of lazy loading is the endless scroll feature found on many social media sites.
Responsive images are actually a collection of images adjusted to fit a variety of screen dimensions and device specifications. Images are resized or cropped to best suit the screen you are delivering images to.
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Responsive images are used in combination with responsive web design. Responsive web design uses a browser or device information to request the appropriate image from your server.
Why Optimize Images?
Optimizing and compressing images is important for several reasons.
Optimized images require less storage space and less bandwidth since they are typically smaller than unoptimized images. Lower space requirements enable you to store images more cheaply as you don’t need as much hardware or cloud storage.
Lower bandwidth requirements enable you to transfer images more quickly, easing collaboration and boosting productivity. If you are using cloud storage, saving on bandwidth can help you reduce service costs.
Slow loading times can frustrate users and make them less likely to engage with your website. Optimizing and compressing images can improve the overall user experience by making your website faster and more responsive.
Optimized images improve website loading speeds and performance. Faster websites provide a better user experience and are ranked more highly by search engines, like Google. When search engines rank your site higher, potential customers are more likely to find your site. A better site experience makes users less likely to leave and more likely to return.
Key features to consider when choosing an image compression tool
When choosing an image compression tool, there are several key features to consider to ensure that the tool you choose is the best fit for your needs. Below are some important features to consider:
The compression ratio refers to the degree to which the image can be compressed while still maintaining its quality. A high compression ratio means that the tool can compress the image to a much smaller size without losing much quality, while a lower compression ratio will result in a smaller reduction in file size but a higher-quality image. Consider the balance between file size reduction and image quality when choosing a compression tool.
Compression speed is an important consideration, especially if you have a large number of images to compress. Some tools may take a long time to compress images, while others can do so quickly. Consider how important speed is to your workflow, and choose a tool that can compress images quickly without sacrificing quality.
Look for tools that offer customization options, such as the ability to adjust the compression level, optimize images for specific platforms, or choose different file formats. These options can help you fine-tune the compression settings to achieve the best balance between image quality and file size.
Batch processing capabilities:
If you have a large number of images to compress, a tool with batch-processing capabilities can save you a lot of time and effort. Batch processing allows you to compress multiple images at once, saving you the hassle of compressing each image individually.
Image format support
Finally, consider the image formats that the tool supports. Some tools may only support certain file formats, while others may support a wide range of formats. Make sure the tool you choose supports the formats you need to work with.
VIDEO: My Favorite Image Compression Tools
5 Free Image Compression Tools For Faster Websites
There are a variety of tools available for optimizing images, from simple browser plugins to complex digital asset management solutions. You can find both open-source and paid tools, depending on your needs. Below are five free tools you can use to start optimizing your images.
TinyPNG is a tool for performing lossy compression on PNG images. You can use it online or via plugins for WordPress or Magento. The first 500 images you compress with TinyPng each month are free. You can compress up to 20 images at a time.
TinyPNG includes a REST API for developers as well as client libraries for Node.JS, Ruby, Python, Java, PHP, and .NET. It also includes features for the preservation of metadata, batch processing, and automatic optimization.
Compressor.ai is another excellent and easy-to-use tool. Compressor.ai is a powerful image compression tool that offers a range of features and customization options to help users optimize their images for the web. Its ability to compress images without sacrificing visual quality makes it an excellent choice for anyone looking to improve website speed and reduce bandwidth usage.
Users can choose between different compression levels, set maximum file size limits, and even optimize images for specific platforms such as social media or e-commerce.
ImageOptim is a tool you can use to compress and optimize images. You can use it on macOS, Linux, and Windows systems. You can also access it via API on the web. ImageOptim supports JPEG and PNG file formats.
ImageOptim includes features for responsive images, metadata removal, and progressive rendering. Progressive rendering loads images from low quality and refines the resolution as bandwidth allows.
4. Radical Image Optimization Tool (RIOT)
RIOT is a tool you can use to compress images with real-time visualization of the results. You can use on-premise with Windows systems. You can also integrate it with a variety of programs via plugins, including GIMP, XnView, and IrFanView.
RIOT has features that let you control compression, the number of colors, and metadata settings. Using it, you can perform automatic optimization and batch processing. RIOT supports input of BMP, PSD, RAW, popular HDR formats, and scientific formats. It supports output to JPG, GIF, and PNG formats.
Optimizilla is an online tool for lossy image compression. You can use it for images in JPEG and PNG formats. Optimizilla enables you to perform batch processing on up to 20 images at a time.
Optimizilla includes features for previewing optimization results prior to processing. The site states that uploaded images are deleted from their servers after an hour.
Kraken.io is an online tool for compressing your images with either lossy or lossless compression. It enables the export of images in JPEG or PNG formats.
Kraken.io has features that enable you to specify what metadata is retained, determine chroma subsampling levels, and perform batch processing. The paid version includes features API access, WordPress and Magento plugins, cloud storage, and additional web interface options.
Image optimization is a relatively easy and fast way to improve your website performance and retain your visitors. Even if you aren’t able to use all available optimization techniques, every effort you make can make a difference. Hopefully, this article helped you better understand what options are available to you and how these options can meet your needs. You can use the free tools covered here to improve site performance and ensure a positive user experience.