Have you ever wondered why it takes a literal century for some websites to load? Have you ever given up on a site because you’re stuck waiting there with an image slowly loading down the page? Have you ever seen your site do this and do you worry that people are clicking off?
Well, if you answered yes to those questions – especially that last one – you need to compress your images.
Image compression is vital if you’re planning on storing and transferring images or even if you’re just trying to build a functional yet visually pleasing website.
If you’re new to the concept of image compression, here are a few vital things you need to know:
1. Why you should compress your images
Image compression isn’t just an extra, arbitrary step to take when creating a site or storing images. Compressing your images allows them to load quickly and make them efficient to transfer.
And no, compression doesn’t mean just making them smaller on the page. Compression requires you to reduce the cost or the amount of storage space; it takes up. If you have an image that’s in wildly high quality, it will take forever to load, even if you size it down to a tiny little rectangle. This is because the quality doesn’t decrease when you make it smaller, and the quality is what makes the file so large.
When you are going to have a photo on the web, you need to compress it, even if you’re planning on having it visually sized down.
2. How images compress
There are several different ways images are compressed depending on the kind of method you decide to you – which also depends on why you are compressing the image in the first place.
However, the way images are compressed has everything to do with reducing the file size. By reducing the file size, you’re basically reducing the information that’s stored in the photo, or you’re encoding it in a different way.
There are two different kinds of compression – which I will explain in a second – one of which will cause your image to lose some of it’s quality while the other will not.
3. Lossy vs. Lossless compression
There are two main kinds of compression: lossy and lossless. They’re kind of self-explanatory. By using a method that is lossy, the image loses quality, by using a lossless method you retain quality while making the file smaller and easier to transfer.
Lossless is the kind of compression mainly used if you’re trying to save an image into a type of archival system. If you need to retain every ounce of quality – and thusly information – you’ll want to use a lossless compression method as this will make sure the image is still crisp and detailed.
If you’re using a photo for a website or in a type of print publication, you’ll want to use a lossy kind of method. This reduces the size of the image and reduces some of its quality. This allows for faster loading online and allows your photos to still look good without taking up unnecessary space.