A lot of work goes into capturing unique, quality images and editing them to make them as stunning as possible. However, when it comes to uploading and displaying your photographs online, there's more that needs to be done if you don't want them to hurt your site's performance.
Optimization plays a critical role not only in how your images appear on the web, but how they function as well. Fortunately, there are advanced techniques you can implement using Photoshop and other editing software to properly prepare your files before uploading them.
In this post, we'll discuss the importance of image optimization and provide you with three methods you can use to go about it effectively. Let's get started!
The Importance of Optimizing Your Images for the Web
High-quality images are an integral part of creating engaging webpages. Unfortunately, they also take up a lot of space and account for much of a site's weight.
Therefore, if images aren't optimized correctly, they can lead to slower loading times. Consequently, they may also produce poor User Experience (UX), higher bounce rates, and lower search engine rankings.
There are a lot of factors that go into delivering optimized images, including choosing the right format, resolution, and size. While there are certain WordPress plugins that can help, they only do so much. Taking it to the next level involves strategies that begin even before you upload your media files to your site.
3 Advanced Optimization Techniques for Displaying Web Images
Now that we covered why optimizing your images is so pertinent to your site's performance, it's time to learn how to go about it. Let's take a look at three advanced techniques you can use.
Note: The methods discussed below utilize Photoshop. However, the same concepts apply to other editing software such as Lightroom.
1. Adjust Image Sizes to the Maximum Dimensions Needed
When it comes to optimizing images, file size is of utmost importance. One of the quickest and most effective ways to reduce the weight of your photographs is to adjust them to the appropriate dimensions.
Typically, the 'exact size' of your original image is larger than what's necessary or recommended. Determining the dimensions your theme will use to display your photographs on your site and resizing appropriately will help you shed extra weight.
Let's say you have an image you plan to use for a slideshow on your homepage. The original dimensions are 5562 px X 3708 px, resulting in a file size of 59 MB (megabytes). However, your theme's slider is 1800 px X 1200 px.
To view and change the dimensions in Photoshop, you can go to Image > Image Size:
After adjusting the dimensions to 1800 px X 1200 px, the new file size is 6.18 MB. This is a huge reduction that demonstrates how one simple change can make a major difference.
2. Use the 'Save for Web' Function to Reduce File Sizes Without Sacrificing Quality
When you're editing images, the method you use to export and save the final products can also influence their weight. Photoshop comes with a 'Save for Web' function that lets you reduce file sizes without visibly diminishing the quality of your images.
To access this feature, open your image in Photoshop. Then navigate to File > Export > Save for Web (Legacy):
In the window that opens, you can choose your export quality in the top-right panel. The following is an example of a JPEG image with the quality level set at 80 percent or 'very high':
The resulting file size is 3.75 MB. Instead, you could change the quality to 30 percent, or 'medium':
The new file size is 1.615 MB – less than half the weight of the 'very high' quality image. However, there's not much (if any) noticeable difference. Still, we recommend keeping the quality somewhere between 60 and 80 percent for optimal results.
3. Convert Images to the sRGB Color Space Before Saving Them
When you're preparing images for the web, another important factor to consider is the color space. If you're unfamiliar, color profiles refer to the raw numeric data used to represent colors.
Essentially, they're used to tell devices how to process and interpret the colors in your image files. Typically, RGB color profiles are used to ensure consistent print quality.
However, when preparing images for consistent display quality online, it's better to convert your files to sRGB profiles. This color space is the standard for web browsers. You can make the necessary adjustments right in the 'Save for Web' window in Photoshop:
When you're saving your image, make sure the box next to 'Convert to sRGB' is checked. This will ensure you're using the correct color space and, in turn, provide a more pleasant experience for your site visitors.
Unoptimized images can slow down your site and hurt its performance. Fortunately, there are steps you can take before uploading them to WordPress that can help minimize their impact on your loading times.
In this post, we discussed three advanced optimization techniques you can use for displaying your web images:
- Adjust the image size to the maximum dimensions needed.
- Use the 'Save for Web' function to reduce file size without sacrificing quality.
- Convert images to the sRGB color space before saving them.
Do you have any questions about using any of these advanced image optimization techniques? Let us know in the comments section below!