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Image file sizes

Posted by Michael Bloch in web development (Sunday March 23, 2008 )

Working at a web hosting company gives you not only an interesting insight into common problems that ISP’s experience, but also at the user’s end as well. One of those is image file sizes.

It’s not unusual to see issues being reported about a slow loading home page and at times, the problem isn’t at the host’s end. I was looking at a site today that uses quite a few images on their home page. There’s nothing wrong with that in itself, but it can become an issue in cases such as this example where the images are 1 megabyte …. each. Total size of the page was around the 10 megabyte mark; which is rather huge.

When you start getting a few people hitting the site and you’re hosted on a shared server, the issue becomes more pronounced – too many server resources are being tied up for too long trying to push those images down the line to the visitor.

When people are designing their sites, it’s often done on their own computer; so load times aren’t apparent – it’s not until the site is live that the problem becomes noticeable and often the web host gets the blame.

There’s a very simple solution called image compression. A 1 megabyte image in many cases can be compressed to 50kb without any apparent loss of image quality. The dimensions remain the same, it’s just the file size that reduces through the magic of compression technology.

Just about all graphics packages provide options for compression; check the help file in your graphics application for more information on how this is achieved. It usually only takes a couple of clicks to optimize your images and it really pays to do so – the faster your site loads, the happier your visitors (and web host) will be.

Just another point – many applications such as shopping carts offer thumbnail functionality; i.e. creating a small image from a larger one for the purposes of displaying in the cart catalog along with other items.

The problem can be the cart doesn’t create a true thumbnail, but just a scaled down version of the image which will have exactly the same file size as the larger one.

If you’re in the market for a shopping cart software package; be sure to check for true thumbnailing features. If you’re stuck with a cart that doesn’t have the feature, the best thing you can do aside from compressing images before uploading is to have fewer entries on each catalog page.

On a somewhat related topic – I just published an article on sending large attachments via email – why you should reconsider the practice and some of the alternative methods available.


Page load time optimization

Sending files – transfer and delivery tips

Shopping cart software review


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