Why you should optimise images on your website (and how)

It’s so easy to find high-quality, free stock images these days. Two sites that I regularly use are pixabay.com and pexels.com. I sometimes pay for higher-end images as well and sometimes create my own and occasionally I use Canva.

The great thing about these images is that they are high-resolution so you can use them anywhere and at quite large sizes – on the web and on print material.

The downside is that while the images make your site look great, they could be slowing it down. Large image sizes take longer to download and slow down sites, impacting your user experience and your search engine ranking. If you download a stock image or image from your camera, upload it straight to WordPress and then resize it on the screen, you’re still using the original high-res size of the file.  Most of the time, especially on a website, you won’t need to use the image at a high resolution so it should be compressed, or optimised, so as not to slow your site down.

So how do you find out the image size and what IS too large?

If you want to find out how large the image is on your file system, simply click on the file and your operating system file manager (for example, Finder on OSX) should tell you. Ideally, your image should be well under 500KB. That is more than enough for a full-screen image. A small icon should be no larger than 10KB.

If you want to test if there are large images already on your website, you can use Pingdom.com.

So you have an image that is over 500KB, it’s time to compress it. How do you do that?

I use Adobe Photoshop Elements, it is a great image editor that I use it regularly and is not as pricey as the full version of Photoshop. It does great image compression very easily.

Gimp is a free open-source alternative to Photoshop but I find it non-intuitive and prefer Photoshop.

If you’re not in the market for graphic editing software, there are free online resources you can use. TinyPNG is one of these. It is easy to use and as an example, compressed my 2MB image to 275KB in less than 30 seconds without any loss of visual quality.

I hope this helps you keep your website fit and fast!

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