It’s no secret that a website that loads quickly, and without a hitch, can improve search rankings. Of course faster load time also means users can be more engaged in your website and your bounce rate decreases. While there are many factors that determine how quickly your website loads pages, graphics and images can have a huge influence on speed.
A website that contains tons of meaningful images and graphics can be visually appealing to look at, but the pages have to load in order for users to experience them. Even the fastest internet connections are no match for websites that are brimming with oversized graphics and images. There are, however, solutions: hosting images yourself, image optimization, and using CSS sprites.
Hosting Images Yourself
When a computer user types in a URL to view a webpage, the internet browser that is being used will receive information from the data found within the webpage header. The browser has to make a separate request to load images when images are hosted on separate websites such as Flickr or photobucket. In fact, the server would have to make a separate DNS request to load each image that is hosted on an entirely different website.
One way to increase the speed at which your site loads pages is to host the images found on your website yourself. This would reduce the number or requests that browsers would have to make in order for webpages to load correctly. It’s important to use the same domain and server when uploading images that will be used on your website, because if they are hosted elsewhere, the browser will continue to have the same problem as described above, making it necessary to make separate DNS requests.
Image Optimization with Google
Another way to increase the speed at which your webpages load is to use an image optimizer. This reduces image size while maintaining clarity and quality. Google images can be optimized simply by using a Google designed plugin, which increases website speed.
It optimizes images automatically in a format that is specifically designed for the web. There is virtually no difference to the naked eye when viewing an optimized versus a non-optimized image. If you want to drastically reduce the size of images on your website, thereby increasing page load time, be sure to optimize images before inserting them in webpages.
CSS Sprites Reduce Superfluous HTTP Requests
It’s important to maintain a visually appealing website, but oftentimes so many different graphics are used on single pages that a browser has to download dozens and dozens of different images in order to display a single webpage. As a webpage is downloaded, the internet user’s browser and the domain server send and receive several HTTP requests. Reducing the number of requests that have to be made between browser and server can also reduce page load time. CSS sprites can help in the accomplishment of this goal.
CSS sprites essentially enable individuals to pack all graphic elements for one webpage into a single image, where you can specify which elements need to be used where. This reduces the number of requests to one.
Fast Page Downloads Make Users Happy
It can be frustrating to sit and wait for webpages to load before obtaining the data you need. In order to decrease frustration and increase speed time, image optimization should be considered. Drastically decreasing the sizes of each of the graphic element on your website can have a large impact on how quickly webpages load, and fast page downloads make users happy.