What Is Image Optimization? Learn About Image Compression and Optimization

image optimization tools

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 

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. Lossy compression reduces the size of an image by eliminating pixels or color information and reducing image quality. Lossless compression reduces image size by using references to eliminate redundant data. Unlike lossy compression, no data is lost with lossless compression.

Lazy Loading 

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 

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. 

Responsive images are used in combination with responsive web design. Responsive web design uses browser or device information to request the appropriate image from your server.

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Why Optimize Images?

Optimizing images can help you decrease costs and increase customer engagement. 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.

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.

5 Free Tools to Optimize Website Images

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.

1. TinyPNG

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.

2. ImageOptim

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.

3. 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, 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.

4. Optimizilla

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.

5. Kraken.io

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 to perform batch processing. The paid version includes features API access, WordPress and Magento plugins, cloud storage, and additional web interface options.

Want more free image optimization tools? Try these free easy to use tools to help you optimize your images for the web.

Conclusion

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 positive user experience.

Gene is Web Developer & the Founder of BigAppleMedia. He helps clients get leads & grow traffic by building smart & result driven websites and applying the latest SEO strategies. Schedule a Free Consultation

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