Improve Your Website’s Performance With These Photo Optimization Tips

stopwatch

Much has been written lately about slow page loading times on news websites. People are increasingly consuming news on mobile devices, often with limited bandwidth.

Earlier this year, Google announced that they now use “mobile-friendliness” as a ranking signal in mobile search results and even adding an extra second or two of load time has been shown to increase abandonment rates on websites.

Sites that aren’t optimizing for performance on all devices and connection speeds are limiting their own audience growth. Every time someone can’t find your site or they’re too impatient to wait for a page to load, you’re losing a potential reader.

Fortunately, the INN Nerds aren’t content to just complain about it, we’re here to help fix it!

Let’s Start with Photos

The average web page now weighs in at just under 2 MB, and images are the main culprit. Photos on the web are essential elements of storytelling and connecting with your audience. But if your photos aren’t optimized, they can also weigh down your web pages and make them slow to load. To improve the overall performance of your website, photo optimization is a great place to start.

What is Photo Optimization

Photo optimization involves compressing the file size of photo using a tool like Adobe Photoshop. We want the highest quality photo with the smallest possible file size. Too much compression can impair the quality of the image. Too little compression can result in a large photo file size which slows the performance of our web page. Optimization is finding the right balance between quality and file size.

Consider these two images:

Photo of Delicate Arch

Not Optimized. Width: 1200px, Height: 800px, File Size: 939 Kilobytes

Delicate Arch in Arches National Park

Optimized. Width: 1200px, Height: 800px, File Size: 107 Kilobytes

The second photo has a file size of less than 12 percent of the first. You can probably see a slight degradation in the photo quality. But most people would not notice the difference between these two on a web page.

On the web we should never use any photo with a file size like 939 Kilobytes. This will slow the loading of the page, especially on slower connections and mobile devices. We want to keep website photos under 100 KB if we can, and much lower for smaller images. For example, here’s the same photo reduced in dimensions:

Delicate Archive in Arches National Park

Not Optimized. Width: 300px, Height: 200px, File Size: 192 Kilobytes

Delicate Arch in Arches National Park

Optimized. Width: 300px, Height: 200px, File Size: 14 Kilobytes

The file size of the second photo is less that 10 percent of the first image, yet most people would see no difference in photo quality. If you have a web page displaying a number of similar-sized images, for example a gallery page or a series of stories with thumbnail images, smaller photo file sizes can add up a huge reduction in page loading time.

How to Optimize Photos in Photoshop

Best practice for optimization is to start with the highest-quality source photo, then resize and compress it for the web. Start by cropping and resizing the photo for the space it will fill on your web page. If the photo will be displayed in a sidebar widget that’s 300px wide, there’s no reason to upload a photo wider than 300px for that space. Reducing the size of the photo by itself will reduce its file size.

After the photo is cropped and sized, in the File menu go to Export -> Save for Web:

Save for Web dialogue box in Photoshop

Here you can select which photo format to export (always use JPEG for photos), and how much compression to apply. Medium is often the optimum setting, but this is a judgement call. If you don’t see a preview of both the Original photo and the JPEG export, click the 2-Up tab at the top. Now you can try different compression settings and see a preview of the results, including the file size:

Optimized image in Save for Web dialogue in Photoshop

Once you’re happy with the image quality and file size reduction, click Save to create your web-optimized photo. This will not affect your original image, which should be archived for possible use in the future..

Tip: If you like keyboard shortcuts, in Photoshop you can launch Save for Web like this:

  • Command + Shift + Option + s (Mac)
  • Control + Shift + Alt + s (Windows)

Optimizing Photos without Photoshop

If you don’t use Photoshop, there are any number of other tools for optimizing website images.

Compressor.io is a free online tool. You can drag and drop a source photo into it, and download a compressed version of the image. Compressor.io doesn’t have any cropping or resizing tools, and you can’t adjust the amount of compression. In our tests, Photoshop does a better job of balancing photo quality and file size. But if you have a photo sized correctly for your website, it’ll do in a pinch.

If you’re comfortable using the command line, there are a number of tools available to you for optimizing different image types.

Your Photo Workflow

If you’ve produced photos for print, you know it’s important to maintain the highest quality photo throughout the process. But with today’s cameras, the highest quality photo is likely to be 5000 pixels wide, and more than 20 Megabytes in file size. Such a photo is great for print, but a problem on the web.

Best practice is to safely store the original photo files in their highest resolution, for the day when you need to resize or reuse them in another context. Use the original photos to crop, size, and export for the web, then keep the originals safe for future use.

https://nerds.inn.org/2015/11/23/improving-website-performance-optimizing-photos/

How to Create Blog Content That’s 10 Times Better Than Your Competitors

CreateBlogContent10TimesBetterDo you want your blog to perform better against your competitors? Want to know how to rank higher on Google and generate more social shares?

Siege Media share their 17 tips for higher performing blog posts in the infographic below.

How to Create Blog Content That’s 10 Times Better Than Your Competitorshttps://blog.red-website-design.co.uk/category/content-marketing/

50+ Easy to Follow Web Design Guidelines for a More Successful Website

Are you considering launching a new website? Or perhaps you’re always on the lookout for tips to improve your existing site?

When it comes to creating a user friendly, high converting website there are many things to consider. There’s the site navigation and page layout, the written and visual content, and perhaps more importantly there’s SEO.

For some help getting each of those plus more right take a look at this infographic from Karim Khalaf.

50+ Easy to Follow Tips for a More Successful Small Business Website

 

http://blog.red-website-design.co.uk/2015/12/04/50-easy-to-follow-web-design-guidelines-for-a-more-successful-website/

Image compression: File types – RAW, S-RAW, M-RAW and JPEG

RAW


A RAW file is the image data exactly as captured on the sensor. Any settings you apply in white balance, Picture Styles and some other areas are only appended to the image as a small header file. This means they can be changed later in RAW conversion software such as Canon’s Digital Photo Professional (supplied with the camera).
 
A RAW file is often referred to as a ‘digital negative’ because the data can be processed and printed in different ways to produce different results – just like the negative from a film camera. Also, like a film negative, the RAW file never changes. When you open a RAW file in a software application, it is actually a copy of the data which opens. When you save this, it creates a new file on your computer. The original RAW file can then be opened again (as another copy) and worked on to produce a completely different result.
Advantages
  • Can be modified after capture
  • Maximum flexibility
  • Widest range of colours recorded
Disadvantages
  • Largest file size
  • Needs computer for processing

 

S-RAW


Introduced with the EOS-1D Mark III, S-RAW provides all the advantages of a RAW file, but in a smaller file size. An S-RAW file has approximately one-fourth the pixel count and approximately half the file size of a RAW image. Just like RAW images, S-RAW images can be adjusted and processed with Digital Photo Professional software (supplied with the camera). S-RAW will appeal to wedding photographers, for example, who do not need full resolution for wedding candids, but who do need the post-production control RAW offers.
Advantages
  • Smaller file size than RAW (so more images can be captured to a media card)
Disadvantages
  • Lower resolution than RAW

 

M-RAW

 
Introduced with the EOS 7D, and also on the EOS-1D Mark IV, M-RAW provides all the advantages of a RAW file, but in a smaller file size. Depending on the camera an M-RAW file has approximately between 55-60% of the pixel count and approximately two thirds the file size of a RAW image. Like RAW images, M-RAW images can be adjusted and processed with Canon’s Digital Photo Professional software (free in the box with the camera).
 
Shooting M-RAW files might appeal to wedding photographers who don’t need full resolution for wedding candids, but who do want the post-production control that RAW offers. It could also be of use to sports/action photographers who will get an increase in the number of frames when shooting in bursts due to using a smaller file size. M-RAW is also worth considering if you are not planning to make prints larger than A3 size.
Advantages
  • Smaller file size than RAW (so more images can be captured to a media card).
  • Increased burst shooting possibilities.
Disadvantages
  • Lower resolution than RAW.

 

JPEG


A JPEG image file is a RAW file that has been converted by the in-camera DIGIC processor and saved as a compressed file. It can be saved at different image sizes and levels of compression to give different file sizes. The camera takes the RAW file and applies the camera parameter or Picture Style settings to the image to create a new file.
 
These settings cannot be changed once the JPEG file has been saved. It is possible to make some colour and exposure changes to a JPEG file, but you will be working at 8-bit depth rather than the 12-bit or 14-bit depth offered by EOS digital cameras.
 
This may not be a problem if you are making minor changes to the file and printing at sizes up to A4, but it might be significant with large changes or bigger prints. Also, a JPEG file is compressed each time it is edited and saved, and can lose some data each time.
 
There are two aspects to every JPEG file: Large, Medium and Small refers to the image size (the number of pixels recorded); Fine and Normal refers to the amount of compression used when saving the file. Large/Fine gives the maximum quality; Small/Normal the lowest.
Advantages
  • Smaller file sizes (more images can be stored on a CF or SD card)
  • Images are easy to view, mail and print than RAW files
Disadvantages
  • Reduced post-processing flexibility
  • Reduced colour depth and resolution
  • Need to get everything correct in-camera (some computer processing is possible)
http://cpn.canon-europe.com/content/education/infobank/image_compression/file_types_raw_sraw_and_jpeg.do

How to Use Pinterest to Generate Revenue

Home to countless cookie recipes, laughable memes, and perfect last-minute gift ideas, there’s certainly already a lot to love about Pinterest.
 
But what if we told you that the content sharing service had even more to offer?
 
The simple truth is this: Amidst the ab workouts and IKEA furniture hacks, there lies a huge opportunity for businesses to use Pinterest to drive revenue.

And with nearly 30% of online American adults using Pinterest, this isn’t an opportunity you’ll want to leave on the table.
 
To help you get a handle on how to make Pinterest work better for your business, make your way through the infographic below from QuickSprout. It includes insight on what the most popular categories are and how to drive more engagement. Check it out to get the background you need to start putting your own Pinterest strategy into practice.
 
How-to-turn-pinterest-into-a-revenue-driven-channel.jpg
 
 

In-Depth Photography Tips for Your Blog

Whether you need help with shooting your images at optimum times, resizing photos, lens jargon or even help on how to make that image just look super perfect in the moment, I’m adding my 2 cents to the already long list of Photography Tips on the web, and have come up with my own  quick-fix guide to show you how to achieve the finish and detail you desire in all your photography.
 
Lenses: What do they do?
Lenses are a huge part of photography; essentially the lens does 80-90% of the work, the rest being the camera quality and your eye for the subject. For professional photographers, wide-angle lenses and telephoto portrait lenses are some of the best to go for, but if you’re looking for high-quality blog images, then there a few to look into.
18-55mm Lens – This is the standard lens that comes with most DSLR kits. A wide-angle mid-telephoto lens, this is perfect for capturing a lot of the environment around you and also zooming in close for detail shots. Most have image stabilisation features which allow the quality of your photographs to stay clear even if you jolt a little!
50mm Lens – The 50mm lens is designed to be the same as human vision due to it’s ‘normal’ focal length, and gives a beautiful blur to the items around the photographed subject. Great for low low light situations as it can reach a high aperture setting, it is also super sharp and is more compact and discreet. If you buy one lens, make it this one!
Telephoto Lens – A specific lens that has a shorter physical length than the length of focus; the higher the mm number, the more times you can zoom in to the subject – even if you’re far away, you can still get amazing quality! The main point of telephoto lenses is to be able to focus on a subject when you can’t (or shouldn’t, you paps!) and still get clear, crisp photos. Word of warning, the higher the number, the more likely you’ll get camera shake!
Pancake Lens – A short-barrelled lens that is compact and flat, and refers for to the shape of the lens rather than the image created. Just like the 50mm, they are fixed-focused and range from 20mm-40mm in length. There is some speculation on the image quality, however, using it for fashion shots on the street is a perfect shout.

RAW vs JPEG: What’s the big deal?
It’s a pretty big deal! JPEG is a compressed and processed version of your photo, easy to upload but not easy to edit – you won’t be able to work out those shadows without making another part of the image look odd, and there won’t be as much detail as the camera will have balanced it out and set it for you as designed by their settings. RAW is the raw information of the image captured; it is essentially the full detail and quality of everything you captured in the frame, uncompressed and unprocessed which allows you more freedom to edit and adjust the details of your picture more. They can appear flat or dark, but they are much easier to lift and edit on Photoshop or Lightroom due to having all the available information intact from the initial shot.

Basically JPEG processes your image within the camera so it is ready to use straight away, making detailed editing harder. There is less detail available and a flatter image produced. RAW is the rawest form of an image, with all the detail available and captured without being compressed – this is why it’s a large file and takes up more space on your memory card. There is more freedom with editing, and more clarity in the finished product. For blog images, RAW is great as you can minimalise shadows more, capture detail in products or subjects, and you can create a more professional finish with little effort. JPEG is still a great method, it works well for holiday pictures and blog photos, but if you want to make your photos look good a certain way, try shooting in RAW.

How to use Manual: ISO / F-Stops / Aperture in Detail
Let’s break this down: ISO is the camera’s sensitivity to light – the higher the ISO, the more light it will pick up in an image, and the lower it is the more shadows that are pronounced. Aperture is the hole in which the light comes through the camera – the smaller the number (F1.4) the larger the hole. Aperture also controls the Depth of Field, so a small aperture creates a larger depth of field and vice versa. Shutter Speed (1/600s) is how long it takes for the camera to open and close on a shot, and how quickly the image is taken. Slow shutter speed (1/30) creates a blur but makes fast moving objects look very soft and fluid, whilst a high SS (1/1000) creates a crisp, clear image, perfect for action shots.

Below is a photo taken on different settings, where the ISO, Aperture and F-stop have been changed accordingly to fit the environment.
 
As you can see, the first and last images are not that clear and are either too under or over-exposed, and this is all due to the camera settings. The first image is clearly under-exposed, with the ISO set to 3200, Aperture of F/4.5 and Shutter Speed of 1/800, meaning that there is a short amount of time between the shutter opening and closing, and the Aperture is only able to let in a small amount of light in the time it takes to capture the image.

This is because Aperture controls the amount of light that comes into the camera through the hole in the camera, whilst ISO sets the light sensitivity that the camera detects i.e. the higher the ISO, the more light it is able to pick up/expose (leading to brighter or duller images, and also noisier images which become grainier!), and Shutter Speed is how quickly the image is captured. All three of these work together to create a balanced image that suits your photography task.

The final image has the setting ISO 3200, F/4.5 and 1/40 S, which means that all the available light that has been detected by the camera’s sensitivity is exposed, and that through a slower shutter speed, more light is able to make it through the 4.5 sized hole to create a brighter – yet over-exposed – photo.

Using the [3-2-1-0-1-2-3] bar on your camera can help you see whether your image is balanced/slightly under/over-exposed during Manual settings. Manual in itself though is actually really easy, and not as scary as you’d think it is. Once you’ve mastered the above, you can easily switch your settings to fit the surroundings and create the finish you desire. The beauty of manual is that you can make images brighter, which means less editing, which means a quicker turn around! It also means you control the image, and you know exactly how it will turn out – especially the colour balance…

Colour Balance: Why are my images orange?
You probably notice an icon that says AWB, and then don’t loot at it again. This icon means Auto White Balance, and basically sets your camera to shoot in a specific light environment – e.g. if it’s dark and the lights are on, you’d select Tungsten Light which generally cancels out the overly orange tones but still doesn’t get rid of them fully. Changing the manual shoot settings can solve this, as usually more light will reduce the tones. If you have trouble, you can get special lenses that cancel out the tones or use Photoshop or PicMonkey to change the temperature of the image through editing.

Resizing Images – Why do my photos take so long to load?
I have two thoughts on the issue with resizing images – on one hand, the biggest thing that can slow down a webpage loading is the size of its images; anything over 1MB is pretty big and will leave you waiting a few more seconds until it’s all displayed, and can be a bit of a killjoy. It also can on some computers lead to your images suddenly enlarging and taking over the screen (however HTML can stop this from happening), so resizing your images to fit exactly the width of your post is a great idea. It looks clean, neat, and makes loading time a dream, and you can even go one step further and save your images for web (when saving your photos, there should be an option to Save For Web). This makes them optimised for web display, automatically adds alt tags and loads quickly too.

Capturing the Moment: How to Frame & Take Your Pictures
Whether it’s a holiday snap or a product review photo, you want the image to look its best. Composition and the rule of thirds is a big, big, big deal. Breaking it down quickly, your image frame is made up of 3×3 equal squares (you can shoot on your cameras with a grid effect, and this is essentially the rule of thirds!) and how the subjects within the frame are positioned is really key. Our brain reads things with balance, so a more aesthetically pleasing image is one that is balanced within the grid.

Here’s an example…
 

The image on the top left is slightly off, not fitting equally within the frame, and kinda feels a bit meh to look at – not much thought has gone into the set up but it’s an okay start. The top right hand image is our left one cropped and moved within the frame to make it sit equally, and instantly it looks much more thought out and easy to view. I know this can sound a bit much, however if you want your images to capture people’s attention, then you yourself have to pay attention to the details in your image frame. Don’t make the taking of the picture all about it fitting in the frame, as you can see above that a crop and resizing can completely transform the final product – get tweaking and you’ll be amazed by the results.

The Magic Hour: Lighting; Not Witchcraft, Just Science!
Lighting is one of the biggest things in photography, and now that we’re heading into Spring there’s finally more light hours in the day to capture our images. I have both studio lights and use natural light, however I prefer the latter for my photos as it’s a lot lighter, clearer and bright. Studio lights are great when you want to control an environment or have continuous illumination on a subject, however you can get that edge that looks unnatural – 100% you’re own preference though!

If you do use natural light, then the best times to shoot are about 10am to 5pm as the sun reaches the higher points in the sky and isn’t as bright or yellow as it is in the mornings. For atmospheric shots, there is the ‘Magic Hour’ or ‘Golden Hour’, which occurs just after sunrise or before sunset where the sun is still high but the sky turns red – this is due to a drop in the lighting ratio as more of the light comes indirectly from the sun. This is contrasted by the midday sun, which can be quite harsh but gives lots of shadows and highlights and can cause overexposure.

When taking photos in natural light, there are some clever quick tips you have to try that make your images look even clearer than normal:
Bounce light back in with a mirror – just like a reflector, but you’re more likely to have one at home! This bounces light reflected into the room back into the subject, making it clearer and brighter. Take your photos facing the light – by facing the light, you allow all features of the subject to be illuminated and seen clearly, whilst blocking the sun will create shadow and an overcast. If it’s a bright day, take your photos in the shade – but have the sun facing you! Just like the previous point, facing the sun is great however a bright day causes bleaching and over-exposure, so stand in a shady spot to keep the light balanced but face the direction of the sun to keep the image bright overall. Bright and light backgrounds will add more light in – whether it’s a white table, a painted board, marbled tray or some paper, a light colour will reflect light back into the subject and camera, keeping the subject interesting and eye-catching when people scroll by.
 
 
Photography can seem daunting, but when you break it down it’s pretty easy to implement into your daily camera life. Whether you shoot on your iPhone or a big DSLR, all these tips can help make your shots become strong pieces of work that grab attention. Utilise light, materials you have at home, and play around with Manual settings, make the process fun and creative and find your flair to reflect your blog and photo style!
 
 

A Detailed Guide to Photo & Image Sizes on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube & More [Infographic]

When you’re designing cover photos, graphics, and other social media assets, sometimes knowing the bare bones image dimensions isn’t enough.
 
What if you wanted to place text or an arrow on your Facebook cover photo without it getting covered by the profile photo? And what about the shared link thumbnails on Facebook or in-stream photos on Twitter … how big should those be?

If you’re looking for a detailed guide to social media photo sizes — including recommended dimensions, minimum and maximum dimensions, image scale, and more — then this is it. The infographic below from Digital Information World is a great reference to bookmark or keep close-at-hand the next time you’re creating an image for your social media profile. And if you’re looking to make it a little faster and easier to design cover photos for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and YouTube …
 
social-media-cover-photo-dimensions
 
 

How Could Photos Help Your SEO?

Many people are visually oriented, preferring a good photo to a written description. While a photo may not help a search engine, it probably would help a searcher decide if your link was worth the click.
 
Matt Southern of Search Engine Journal took a look at a recent development: Google Gives Business Owners More Control Over Photos Displayed In Search Results. What it means for business owners is options like having one photo for Google+ and a different image for other Google properties, like search.
 
How many different photos you use is up to you, but you can opt for different categories like interior or exterior photos, or shots of your team or workplace. If you want to explore your options, log into your business profile, go to the Photos section, and use the new intuitive feature to see what is possible.
 

People Like Pictures

 
You know that old saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words”? It’s an old saying that keeps being repeated because people like pictures. Images that actually reflect your business are going to be better than stock photos because they trigger a more specific response.
  • Hey, I know that person! He handled my account.
  • We ate in that dining room, the meal was delicious and the atmosphere is great.
  • I loved that sweater because it was comfortable and it stayed that way after washing.
  • Those lamps look perfect, we should go see them in the showroom.
  • So that’s who I spoke to on the phone. She was so helpful.
  • That business looks familiar…of course, I’ve driven past it. I should stop next time.

 

Optimize Photos According to Publishing Guidelines

 
If you use your own photos, then do your homework and follow image publishing guidelines. Make sure those photos are high-quality, too. That isn’t really as difficult as it sounds if you can find an enthusiastic photographer in your area. That person may already be on staff. [Or take your own product and staff photos!]
 
There are definitely some things to be careful with. Some of those things include attribution, image site maps, and formatting. You also have to be careful with the mix of mobile and loading photos.
 
But along with the increased complications of images, the fact remains that people like pictures and a search result with a good photo is probably going to be picked over plain text. That’s why Google is adding the photo options, and that’s why you should look into the possibilities.
 
 

10 Key Elements Your Website Needs for Google to Class You as High Quality

Do you want to improve your reputation in the eyes of Google? Do you want to rank above your competitors in the search engine rankings?
 
Google ranks quality above all else so ensuring your website content is high quality is imperative for online success. But what exactly does high quality mean and how can you ensure the content on your site falls within that category?
 
Take a look at this infographic from QuickSprout which gives you 10 essential elements for high quality content.
 
10 Key Elements for Google to Class You a High Quality Website
 
 

13 Google Search Tricks That Will Make Your Life Much Easier

Do you struggle to find the information you need on Google? Would you like some time saving tricks that will leave you to concentrate on running your business?
 
We all use Google to search for the things we need, but sometimes we don’t find what we’re looking for straight away and can waste time looking at sites that don’t help us. There are a number of hidden tricks within Googles search facility that can cut that waste out for you.
 
Take a look at this infographic from Veravo which gives you 13 ways to save time using Google.
 
13 Google Search Tricks That Will Make Your Life Much Easier