Images are an important part of any good site, and, from the anchor image on your Home page to the brand/company logo on the “About Us” page, the images you choose should work to convey the spirit of your business, as well as the knowledge, experience, and professionalism you bring to the table.
That said, be mindful of the mechanics behind producing good web-optimized images. Putting images on your site is a great idea, but if they’re not managed well they can slow down your site or even stop it in its tracks.
Here are a few tips for the optimum use of images on your business website:
Manage Your Images
There are many factors to consider when preparing an image for use on a site. For now, let's take a look at three that come up most often.
File type. For the most part, there are two file types that are universally accepted:
•JPG/JPEG is the most common image file and strikes a good balance between image quality and file size. The only drawback is its lack of transparency support.
•PNG files are very similar to JPG/JPEG in functionality, with the added benefit of full transparency support.
Easy enough, it’s just a matter of making the image fit into the space designated for it on the site.
This means the overall file size, not how big it is on the screen. Most people rely on their software to resize their site images on the fly. This is not good practice. The main reason has to do with bits verses bytes. However, the long and short of it breaks down like this: if the images you use on a given page equal a certain file size, no matter how your software manipulates those images to fit your page, your visitors are still going to download the original file size. This could be bad news for people with slower connections.
Obviously we can’t accommodate every possible situation, but we can take steps to minimize the amount of information a potential customer has to download just to view your site.
To change the file type, shape, or size of your images, you’ll need some software. Here are a few suggestions:
Paint. Easy to use and FREE, Paint has been a staple of the Microsoft® OS package since its inception. Meaning, if you’re running any version of Microsoft Windows,® you already have it.
Adobe® Photoshop®. Arguably the most feature-rich image editing platform available, until recently, Photoshop was priced out of reach of the average user. In 2013 Adobe changed this by making Photoshop available as a cloud-based platform via monthly subscription.
GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) – Not as simple to use as Paint, (but still FREE!) GIMP is the open source equivalent to Photoshop. It’s a little more buggy than Photoshop, but what do you want for free?
There are literally hundreds of alternatives out there. Personally, as a PC user, I’m a fan of Paint.NET, but don’t be afraid to try a few and see what works best for you.
Now get out there and let the images on your site tell your story.
Want to learn more? Check out Understanding Your Website's Videos and Images and Creating Videos for Your Website (with Your Phone).