Generally speaking, most library staff I work with understand that, when you take an image off a digital camera, it’s huge. It’s easy to see that it’s huge; often, the photo may take up more than your monitor. So, most library staff understand that those digital images have to be resized to fit on their libraries’ websites. However, many non-techs don’t always know that you have to also optimize those images. This means not just making them visually smaller, but actually taking out useless pixels that can’t be seen by the human eye. This means that the image will usually download significantly faster–a boon not just for the inevitable dial-up user, but even for the broadband one. 1 in 4 people abandon a site that takes more than four seconds to load. So, it’s in your library’s best interests to get those images as small as possible–not just visually, but the file size needs to be dropped as well.
Many professional graphics programs have built-in optimization tools, but for most casual web editing staff, I recommend an online tool called Web Resizer. It’s free, and you don’t even have to register to use it. You just upload your image (it can be up to 5 MB), then let it do the work. It shows you the original and the new, optimized image; most times, you won’t be able to even notice a difference. You just download the new one and you’re done.
What does this mean to me, Laura?
- Getting all of the images on your website optimized might be tedious, but it’s very, very important. There are still dial-up users, even now. Additionally, broadband users have limited tolerance for slow sites.
- Web Resizer also offers some additional options for tweaking your image. It can also crop, sharpen, resize, rotate, add a border, adjust saturation, brightness and contrast. All free.
I’m fond of Web Resizer, but there are other tools that do image optimization. Any other favorites? Post them in the comments!