Are your photos so large you need to email them one at a time? Do you have pictures that seem to take ages to load on your website? Are you struggling to fit your image library on a single hard drive or even your server?
These issues are becoming more and more common with the boom in high definition (HD) cameras.
Three things have changed in recent years about images for digital applications.
1. Access to HD cameras appears to be all around us. It seems like every smart phone has a HD camera, digital SLRs have come down in price and even your “point and click” style cameras capture high quality pics. However, HD images, by definition, are large in file size. It’s not uncommon to snap photos that are 2mb-20mb each! Put even 10 of these together and you’re looking at lot of data.
2. Internet speed has increased. Downloading HD photos (whether they are on a social media site, your website, or even sent via email) is much faster than it was in recent years. Think about the days of dial-up and how painful that was to load even a moderate image. Internet speeds haven’t increased at the same rate as image size though.
3. Our patience seems to have decreased. We live in a distracted world, with almost unlimited options. It’s a well repeated fact that if you’re website doesn’t load in under 4 seconds there’s a high chance that the user will give up and go somewhere else to find their information. In many ways we’ve become spoilt by instant gratification and the quick load speed of many slim websites. If your images aren’t loading quickly then you’re already at a disadvantage.
It’s a well repeated fact that if you’re website doesn’t load in under 4 seconds there’s a high chance that the user will give up and go somewhere else to find their information.
So what should you aim for?
As a general rule of thumb we’re aiming for image files that are less than 100kb. We know that these will load in less than a second in most online applications, they’re simple to email and they don’t take up much space.
Image optimisation is about creating the smallest file size possible without losing the quality of the image. There’s several factors that go into this. They include: file type, resolution, image size, etc. For now, the variable with the biggest “bang for buck” that we can control is image size.
There are times that we need large, clear, glossy images. But 90% of the time we need an image that get’s the message across. If you are using images in articles or on your Facebook page it’s rare that the image takes up more than half the screen (I’m talking about a laptop or desktop monitor that’s less than 2000 pixels wide). In these situations an image that’s 800pixels wide by 600 pixels high (or smaller) would suffice. It’s also the right file size (about 100kb).
So, to recap, we’re aiming for images that are 800x600pixels and less than 100kb.
How do we shrink our images?
There’s lots of 3rd party programs that will help you do this in bulk, but this often requires installing and learning new software. If you’re a busy business owner this may just feel like too much effort.
What if I could show you how to reduce files size in a matter of moments, using just Windows and your email client.
Shrinking images to under 100kb using Outlook (or another email client)
Step 1. I’ve created two folders here – one has all my large images in it, the other is empty. By clicking on an image I can see how large it is and other meta data.
Step 2. Select all the images I want to shrink. Right click and then select send to – mail client.
Step 3. A dialogue box will open up. Select your image size (640×480 or 800×600 is fine). Your images will be quickly compressed and attached to an email for you.
Step 4. Copy all images and paste into your other folder. Close and discard your email.
Now you have two folders – one with the original images, another with the shrunk images ready for use elsewhere. These small images are now perfect for web use, social media, emailing and anywhere else where (small) size is important.
If you’d like to see this demonstrated in a quick video, check it out here:
Now it’s your turn. Let me know in the comments below what you think of this method and how you use the smaller images.
Here’s cheers to optimised images!