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How to Optimize Your Web Images (Revised)

Aug 17, 2007
Images are important. The right images can change the look of your web pages instantly and, more importantly, they can instantly boost your online sales.

However, your pictures must come up quickly. Graphics that are not properly optimized can slow down the opening of your web pages considerably, and a slow web site will cost you sales. Apply the following techniques to help speed up your pages, keep potential buyers at your site, and boost sales.

* Keep images and graphics as small as possible in file size. The larger the file sizes, the longer the images take to download.
* Always optimize images before placing them on your web site. Some graphics software programs (e.g. Adobe Photoshop) have a special function for optimizing files. Optimizing compresses a file and reduces the file size while maintaining the highest image quality possible.
* Reduce your file size by saving images in the proper graphic format. GIF or JPEG are the most popular formats for web images.
* Avoid large and unnecessary graphics -- especially on your home page. Only use images that support your sales message. If you have too many images on your page(s), they will distract your visitors and will dramatically slow down the opening of those pages.
* If large images are necessary to illustrate your products, display smaller images (thumbnails), and provide links to the larger versions (which will open on a new page).
* Crop images. If, for example, you're showing a photo of a person using your product, much of the surrounding background is not necessary to support your sales message. Every bit that you crop out (remove) helps to lower the file size of that image.
* Reduce the number of colors in clipart and illustrations. The more colors in an image, the bigger the file size and therefore the more time it takes to open a page. Use gradients sparingly. They contain two or more colors and produce a larger file size than a single solid color.
* Keep the resolution of your images at 72 dpi, the maximum resolution a computer monitor can read.
* Include ALT tags in your images. Search engines can't read images, and ALT tags tell them what an image is about. Use your main keyword in your ALT tags to optimize your search engine position.

Pictures can instantly improve the look of your web site, but it won't matter how good they look if they significantly slow down the opening of your web pages. Use high quality, relevant pictures that support your sales message but make sure they are optimized.
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