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Enhancing User Experience: Practical Tips for Optimizing Images on Your Business Website

If you have a small business, it's generally not a good idea to put very high resolution, heavy images on your website. Read on to learn more.

Key Points

  • Image optimization is crucial for improving website performance, enhancing user experience, and boosting SEO
  • Large, high-resolution images can slow down your website
  • Slow-loading websites can frustrate users, leading to higher bounce rates and lower engagement
  • Image optimization is particularly important for mobile phones due to their limited bandwidth and processing power
  • Search engines consider website speed as a ranking factor, and optimized images can be indexed by search engines

Why Image Optimization Matters

Imagine you’re at a restaurant, and you’ve just ordered a delicious meal. But instead of the food arriving quickly, you’re left waiting… and waiting. You’d probably get frustrated, right? The same thing happens when visitors come to your website and have to wait for large, unoptimized images to load.

Optimizing your images is like serving that restaurant meal quickly and efficiently. It improves your website’s speed, enhances the user experience, and boosts your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.

“By taking advantage of image optimization best practices, you’ll keep your file size small and your load time fast, creating a better experience for your site visitors.”

WP Engine

Website Performance is Improved with Optimized Images

Large, high-resolution images can significantly slow down your website. This is because these images require more data to be loaded, which can take longer, especially on slower internet connections.

Visitors are Happier

Slow-loading websites can frustrate users, leading to higher bounce rates (people leaving your site quickly) and lower engagement.

Optimized images load faster, providing a smoother, more enjoyable experience for your visitors.

The Impact of Image Optimization on Mobile Phones

More and more people have been using their phones for web searches.

Over 55% of website traffic comes from mobile devices.

~ Exploding Topics

When it comes to mobile phones, image optimization is even more critical.

Image shows 2 people looking at their phones in dismay
Not the reaction you want.

Think of a mobile phone as a small backpack you take on a hike; you want to pack it with everything you need, but if it’s too heavy, it’ll slow you down.

Similarly, mobile phones have limited bandwidth and processing power compared to desktops, so every kilobyte counts.

Faster Loading Times

Mobile users often rely on cellular data, which can be slower and have tighter data limits than Wi-Fi.

Optimized images load quicker, which is essential since mobile users expect fast loading times. If your website is slow, they might leave before they’ve even seen what you have to offer.

Improved User Experience

On a small screen, every pixel matters. If images aren’t properly resized, they can make your website look unprofessional and can even make text difficult to read. By optimizing images, you ensure that they look good on any device, providing a better experience for your customers.

Better Performance and SEO

Search engines know that mobile users demand speed, so they favor websites that load quickly on mobile devices. By optimizing your images, you’re not just improving the experience for your users, you’re also improving your SEO and the chances of your site being found.

Mobile Phone Use When Traveling

Is your business in an area that sees a lot of tourists? How much of your income is dependent on those visitors? Why is this an important question?

When people travel, they use their phones to search. All. The. Time.

Think with Google smartphone usage stats
Think with Google smartphone usage stats

If your business is in a heavy tourist area, if your income is in any way dependent on tourist traffic, you can bet that the way your site looks and acts on phones is important. And you can pretty much assume that your competition knows this.

Here’s a small sample of the economic impact of tourism on Cape Cod [emphasis added]:

WELLFLEET, Mass.– A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 4 million visitors to Cape Cod National Seashore in 2022 spent $548 million dollars in communities near the park. That spending supported 6,680 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $750 million dollars.

The National Park Service

Data Usage and the Cost to Users

Even though many people are on phone plans with lots of data, unnecessarily large images can still be a concern.

Large images eat up more data, which can be costly for users with limited data plans.

By optimizing images, you help your customers save on their data usage, which they will appreciate. This can also lead to increased trust and loyalty to your brand.

By optimizing images for mobile, you’re not just making your website faster and more user-friendly, you’re also considering the diverse needs of your mobile audience. This attention to detail can set your small business apart from the competition.

SEO is Improved with Faster Image Loading

Search engines like Google consider website speed as a ranking factor, so slow images can be one of the reasons for low search result ranking. Faster websites are more likely to rank higher in search results.

Also, properly optimized images can be indexed by search engines, providing another way for potential customers to find your website.

Practical Tips for Image Optimization

Now, let’s look at some practical ways you can optimize your images:

  1. Resize Your Images: Large images take longer to load. Resize your images to match the size they’ll be displayed on your website.
  2. Compress Your Images: Image compression reduces the file size of your images without significantly impacting their quality. Tools like Adobe Photoshop, Affinity Photo, or online services can help with this.
  3. Choose the Right Format: Different image formats (like JPEG, PNG, and WebP) have different strengths. For example, JPEG is great for photographs, while PNG is better for images that require transparency.
  4. Use Descriptive File Names and Alt Text: Search engines use file names and alt text to understand what an image is about. Use clear, descriptive language that includes relevant keywords.
  5. Implement Responsive Images: Responsive images adapt to the size of the user’s screen. This means users on smaller screens load smaller images, which can improve load times.

FREE: a fabulous online image optimizer… BulkResizePhotos.com Just upload your image, pick the size, quality and format. Very fast and reliable.

The screenshot above is from a quick example I did just now. The original photo was over 4,000 pixels wide (!). I reduced the width by half, set quality to 75%, and set the format to webP.

Here’s another example, courtesy of the Cape Cod Foster Closet.

A picture of volunteers standing at Unity Day at our Cape Cod Foster Closet table

The original of this image was about 2,900 pixels wide, and about 800 KB. The optimized version is about 1,400 pixels wide, and only 180 KB.

Why Bigger Images Aren’t Always Better

You might think that bigger, higher-resolution images are always better.

Your Images on Smaller Screens

Think of it like a pizza. A larger pizza might seem better because it offers more slices. But if you’re only feeding one or two people, a lot of that pizza is going to waste. Similarly, a large, high-resolution image might seem better, but much of that extra detail is wasted when the image is viewed on smaller screens. Plus, just like a larger pizza takes longer to cook, a larger image takes longer to load.

Computer Screens Don’t Actually Display the Full Quality Anyway

Computer monitors do not necessarily show all the detail in a very high-quality image. And different monitors have different display capabilities.

The level of detail a monitor can display depends on its resolution, which is the number of distinct pixels that can be displayed in each dimension. Higher resolution provides more pixels per inch (PPI), resulting in sharper and more detailed images. However, most computer monitors display at resolutions of 72 or 96 pixels per inch.

The pixel density, or how closely the pixels are packed together, is also important. For professional monitors, a pixel density of greater than 100 pixels per inch (ppi) is recommended.

Moreover, the size of the monitor and the distance from which it is viewed can affect the perceived detail. For instance, a 27-inch and a 32-inch 4K screen have the same number of pixels, but the 27-inch screen has a higher density of pixels per inch, allowing for closer viewing before individual pixels become distinguishable.

a picture of a chart that shows statistics for different monitors
Monitor size makes a big difference in the look of the display

Comparison chart curtesy of Display Benchmark.

The quality of the monitor itself, including its color accuracy, contrast ratio, and brightness, has an impact on the perceived detail of an image.

Therefore, while a high-resolution image contains a lot of detail, not all of this detail may be visible on a computer monitor due to limitations in resolution, pixel density, and display quality.

So, when it comes to images on your website, bigger isn’t always better. It’s about finding the right balance between image quality and load time to provide the best experience for your visitors.

Remember, optimizing your images isn’t just a one-time task. It’s an ongoing process that should be part of your regular website maintenance. But the benefits in terms of improved website performance, user experience, and SEO make it well worth the effort. Happy optimizing!

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