How to manage an image-heavy website using ImageKit.io

With the retention rate of visuals being much higher than textual content, businesses are leveraging images for all intents and purposes, leading to image-heavy websites. These images, though optimized for contextual consumption, pose a problem. They are a threat to fast page loading. Images carry weight and consume more bandwidth, slowing down page load speed. However, there are ways you can manage your image-heavy website to improve its load time. ImageKit.io is an ideal solution to use for implementing these techniques. It effectively optimizes and transforms the images in real time simplifying the image workflow. And with its Media Library, the assets are backed up in two regions, eliminating any chance of you losing your images while helping you save server disk space. It’s easy to use and effortless post initial set up.

In addition to ImageKit.io’s suite of real-time image manipulation features, it also offers image delivery solutions with its own ready-to-use infrastructure.

So, what are these techniques one can use to manage an image-heavy website? And how can ImageKit.io help?

Use Rightly-Sized Images

Image dimensions is one of the most common factors affecting image loading. When a maximum-sized image is delivered to the website with changes made in the CSS height and width for the browser, it makes for a heavier page. And loading these consumes more data.

Browser-side image resizing is a common error. While you’re saving time and effort by delivering a large image, you’re wasting an even more precious asset — bandwidth.

Images need to be sized as per requirements. Loading a large image when a smaller one was needed would cost your website in valuable seconds. Even sizing the thumbnails right can bring down the page load size considerably!

It is best to generate images in all required sizes, including optimally-sized website thumbnails, and deliver those to the users based on their device resolution and requirements.

ImageKit.io’s real-time URL-based image transformation feature makes this task effortless. And it’s exactly as it sounds. Apart from other complex transformations, you can resize your images directly from their URLs using height and width parameters.

Here, we just added the width value in the URL below to get the required image size. https://ik.imagekit.io/demo/img/seo-img_E3VIYyKu6.jpg?tr=w-360

image reduction

It allows you to create multiple images of varying dimensions from a single high-resolution image by simply adding custom dimension parameters directly to its URL.

Use Right Image Formats

The most common image formats are JPG, PNG, and GIF. And most people use any image format willy-nilly for their images without considering the use case and impact it would have on not just the image, but the website as well.

Each image format has its own nuances. PNG format is best suited for logos or for images with any transparency, whereas photographs should be served as JPGs. And then there’s WebP, an image format that encapsulates all the virtues of its predecessors and yet, provides better compression ratios.

image format

The right image formats can have a significant impact on your website’s bandwidth consumption. But selecting them is a task. Not everyone knows which image is best rendered in which format, and whether that format is even supported by the browser in use. And here’s where ImageKit.io comes in.

Image format optimizations are based upon factors like image content, image quality, browser support, and user device capabilities.

For instance, https://ik.imagekit.io/demo/img/seo-img_E3VIYyKu6.jpg

will be delivered as a WebP in Chrome, but as a JPG in Safari.

As a default setting in the tool, ImageKit.io delivers your images in the best suited format taking into account the image content and browser support. Just turn it on and you’re good to go!

Compress Your Images

Optimizing the image dimensions is not the only way to reduce image size, you can compress your images as well.

ImageKit.io offers lossless as well as lossy compressions for reducing your image sizes. You can even control the amount of compression that happens an image in real-time directly from the URL.

In very simple terms, lossless compression is a set of techniques to compress the file without altering the image quality. On the other hand, with lossy compression, the image quality is tuned down to produce a smaller-sized image, without any perceivable difference in the image. It is pretty obvious that lossy compression results in a much smaller file size compared to lossless compression.

image compression

Image compressed using ImageKit.io is 1/3rd the original image in size

The human eye is incapable of perceiving certain kinds of differences, and image compression leverages just that. You can reduce the size of an image by bringing down the image quality to just the right point where the quality deterioration (if any) is inconceivable to the naked eye. So assuming on a scale of 100, the image quality is reduced to somewhere between 80-90. Just that much can bring down the image size to 20-25% of the original!

Optimize Your Image Delivery

What’s the point of all your image optimizations and transformations if they are not delivered fast. The ultimate bottom line for it all is a faster page load, right!

Most people make the egregious error of serving all their assets from their origin servers. And when all website assets are delivered by the same origin, it multiplies the load on the server. And it gets worse if the server is not in proximity to the user. Add both these conditions, and you’ve got a slow website.

The best way to tackle these issues is to use a CDN. A Content Delivery Network, or CDN, is a network of servers spread throughout the world. And what it does is reduce the response time for requests, leading to faster load times.

ImageKit.io is not just an image optimization solution, it takes care of image delivery as well for you. It comes integrated with a CDN — AWS CloudFront, a leading CDN provider with over 150 delivery nodes across the globe. And not just this, ImageKit itself has its core processing servers spread across 6 locations globally to further cut down on latency and processing times.

So don’t just optimize your visual assets with ImageKit.io, you deliver them as well, and fast!

For even better page speed, deliver your images through a CDN with proper caching headers. This helps user’s devices cache the images, saving the user bandwidth and time by serving the cached versions of those images each time the website is loaded, unless the content has been modified.

Using HTTP/2

The size of web pages has evolved, and it’s all because of the uninhibited use of image assets all over them. And that means network protocols also need an overhaul.

While HTTP/1.1 served us well, it isn’t equipped to handle the current trends. HTTP/2 is the need of the hour.

HTTP/1.1 had the limitation of 6 parallel requests to a domain, which required techniques like domain sharding for better performance. HTTP/2 allows using the same TCP connection for multiple parallel requests, and provides features like server push and header compression using HPACK. This helps cut down latency significantly.

Final Thoughts

Whether you like it or not, your images are weighing down your website. And they are costing you in conversions.

Slow-loading websites cost retailers $2.6 billion in lost sales each year, and when 39% of people stop engaging with a website if its images won’t load or take too long to load, you know where to start optimizing.

ImageKit.io offers a seamless solution to manage your image-heavy websites with an easy-to-use tool bundled with one of the world’s best CDNs, and you can get started with it right now for free!

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