Why is optimizing photos important for your website, and what does that mean anyway?

As I’ve written elsewhere, it is important that your website displays content (text, images, video, etc.) for visitors as quickly as possible. If people have to wait more than a few seconds to find the information they’re looking for, they might get impatient and go to another website.

The more you can reduce the file size of your photos and images on your website, the faster your website will display information to visitors.

Recently I’ve been adding lots of new product images for client websites. I’ve been editing images in Photoshop for many years and optimizing photos for the web has been part of my weekly routine.

But in the back of my mind I’ve been wondering if anything has changed, or if there are better ways of preparing images. This is a particularly important question because more people are now browsing websites with mobile devices. The combination of patchy cellular bandwidth and human intolerance for slow-loading web content now makes optimizing photos a very important part of serving your mobile customers.

A little bit of research led me to discover that I’m still doing it right…for the most part. There’s another important consideration when it comes to optimizing photos for mobile browsers: HD or retina display. How do we make sure photos look great on high resolution displays like the iPad?

There are numerous articles online about optimizing photos and images for retina, or HD/high DPI. To save you some time, here’s a few articles that will help you, as a small business website owner, prepare and optimize photos for your WordPress website.

Towards A Retina Web – by Reda Lemeden on Smashing Magazine

This article is a few years old but provides an excellent—and readable—introduction to retina displays, the need for higher resolution images for websites, and various methods of displaying those images.

Making Your WordPress Blog Retina Compatible – by Karol at ThemeFuse

This article is less detailed than the previous one, but provides a more current perspective. It also suggests an important plugin…

WP Retina 2x – WordPress plugin by MeowApps

This is currently one of the most popular plugins for displaying retina quality images from your WordPress website. You can download the plugin from the WordPress plugin repository, but the link I’ve supplied here is to the developer’s tutorial.

I am just getting started with testing this plugin on live websites, so please check back next month when I plan on a firsthand review based on real world tests.

I’m curious about other real world experiences with HD or retina images. Please use the comments below to tell us your experiences, especially if you’re using a WordPress plugin for retina images.

About Steady Digital

We provide a WordPress maintenance plan to ease concerns like:

  • Is my website performing at peak performance so visitors get the best experience possible?
  • Do I have regular backups of my website in case something happens to my web server?
  • What if my website gets hacked?
  • How can I get up-to-date, professional training so I can use my website better?
  • Who can I trust to do the updates that are beyond my technical or creative abilities?

Tired of trying to maintain your own website? A WordPress maintenance plan might be the solution for you.

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