Your website’s speed matters – maybe more than you even realize. For whatever reason, we have grown increasingly impatient with the amount of time we’re willing to wait for websites to load shrinking all the time. In fact, about forty percent of people will click off a site if it takes longer than three seconds to load. This can have real, tangible impacts for businesses whose websites are underperforming in the speed department.
For example, Amazon has calculated that if their site experienced a one-second slowdown (meaning it takes one second extra to load), they would lose roughly $1.6 billion per year!
The Importance of Using Images
There is no denying the positive impact that featuring quality images on your website can bring. Images have been shown to improve audience engagement and retention. No one wants to visit a webpage that is made up completely of text.
But using images does come with a drawback as they are additional assets that browsers need to load. As a result, using imagery means your site takes longer to load. Rather than forgo the use of imagery altogether, the key is to optimize your images to the lowest file size possible while not sacrificing image quality. That is the tradeoff that you will always make with your images: how much do you want to sacrifice image quality for a smaller file size or how much do you want to sacrifice file size for a higher quality image.
Lossless vs. Lossy Compression
So now that we’ve established the importance of having great images with the smallest agreeable file size, it’s time to talk about compression. There are two basic types of compression: lossless and lossy.
As the name suggests, lossless compression involves compressing an image’s file size without compromising at all on the quality of the image. On the other hand, lossy compression is when the image’s file size is reduced at the expense of image quality.
So what’s best? Lossy or lossless compression?
The answer to that question is highly circumstantial. If you’re compressing a hero image that will be prominently displayed on your webpage, it’s probably best to stick with lossless compression. If you’re compressing an image that won’t be taking up a lot of space on your page and doesn’t need to be of the highest quality, then lossy compression might be best. As always, you’ll need to decide for yourself how much of the image’s quality are you willing to sacrifice for its file size or vice versa.
By taking the time to make sure that your images are optimized, you’ll make sure that you’re not needlessly slowing your website’s performance because of bloated image files.