Optimizing Images for Fast Load Times

It’s essential that your station website loads quickly.  If not, the listener will be gone before the page loads.  Why?  For one, people are typically impatient, and they won’t wait more than a few seconds for your page to load. Also, search engines take this fact into account, and web pages with slow loading times will rank much lower than similar pages that load more quickly.

One of the quickest ways to decrease your load time is by optimizing your images. Here are four quick tips to do just that.

1. Resize images and reduce the resolution

If you’re taking photos with a digital camera, you’re most likely churning out images with a resolution of 300DPI (dots per inch) or so. While image resolution and file size are not the same thing, a higher resolution generally results in a larger file.

These images will have great clarity of detail and are ideal for print, but the high resolution is lost on website applications. Most monitors are only capable of displaying 72DPI, which is why web developers recommend that all image resolutions be decreased to this number.

To further reduce the size of your image file, you can crop the image to remove any unneeded portions.  You can also compress the image so it takes up less space with roughly the same amount of quality.  There are many programs that do these things easily. One popular example, of course, is Adobe Photoshop.  However, if you’re just starting out a free program may be a better choice.  Here are a few that are free to use:

  • GIMP
  • Windows Live Photo Gallery (comes pre-installed on many Windows computers)
  • Preview (comes pre-installed on most Mac computers)
  • Pixlr

When you save the image with these alterations, make sure you save it as a new file, rather than overwriting your old one. You should always keep an original copy as backup for later use.

Note: You may have noticed that you have the option to resize photos after you upload them to your site.  This is not the same as optimizing.  When you resize photos this way, you’re not reducing the physical size of the image; you’re merely making the image appear a different size for viewing purposes.

2. Choose the best image format

Another important thing to do before you upload your photos is saving them in the correct format. For most purposes, JPG is the ideal choice. It’s a good balance between quality and size and ideal for photographs.

GIF format works well for logos and clipart, especially if there are lots of solid areas that use the same color.

While JPG is better suited for actual photographs and GIF works well for logos and clipart, PNG works well with images that have an alpha channel – those that have a transparent background. PNG is also a great format for compressed images, since the details won’t be lost in the compression.

However, PNG generally saves as a larger file than JPG or GIF, so only use it when necessary.

3. Don’t use text images

Refrain from using text graphics because they take up more space than plain text without offering any additional benefit.  Search engines do not recognize the text within graphics, so they’re not going to add to your SEO.  Combine that with the extra space they use, and it’s better to just stick to regular text. Of course, there are rare exceptions where an infographic or similar material comes in handy, but they’re just that, exceptions to the rule.

4. Check your load time

Once you’ve optimized your images, it’s time to upload them to your site.  If everything’s as it should be, your site should load quite quickly. If you notice it’s still a bit sluggish, there are ways to check the cause of the hang-up.

Several different sites are available to analyse your site’s performance and tell you the issues that are causing problems. One of the most popular sites for this is called Pingdom. Simply type in your web address and hit the ‘Test Now’ button to see your results.

The best websites draw users in.  If your images aren’t optimized for fast loading, you may be driving your customers away. Fix it quickly, so that listeners have the best possible experience when visiting your site.

Still need help with image optimization or SEO techniques?  Contact us and let know your issue.

We want to help your radio station grow and succeed online.  That journey starts with an amazing website that keeps visitors coming back often.  Reach out to us to start your path to online success, or book an appointment to see our tools in action.