When looking to buy a product on an eCommerce website, the first thing a customer considers is the product image. They’re the first impression, the silent salesperson, and the key to converting fleeting curiosity into a committed purchase. But simply taking an image and posting it on the website won’t be a good idea.
There are several things eCommerce developers do to optimize the images for eCommerce websites. They take care of slow-loading images, blurry or pixelated visuals, unoptimized file sizes, and more. So, the product images on your website are lightning-fast, crystal-clear, and SEO-friendly.
In this blog, I’ll explain how you can easily optimize images on eCommerce websites and what kind of benefits it will present. So, let’s begin.
Why Optimize Images for eCommerce Websites?
Nowadays, shoppers have lightning-fast attention spans and limited patience. So, the quality and performance of your product images can make or break the sale. Optimizing those images isn’t just a nice-to-have; it’s a strategic necessity, and there are several reasons behind that:
Page Load Speed: Faster loading times improve the overall user experience and are essential for retaining visitors.
User Experience: High-quality, properly optimized images enhance the visual appeal of a product and help customers make informed purchasing decisions.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Properly optimized images, with appropriate alt text and descriptive filenames, contribute to better SEO by making the content more accessible to search engines.
Mobile Optimization: Optimized images ensure a smoother experience for mobile users, reducing data usage and loading times.
Bandwidth Savings: Image optimization reduces the amount of data transferred between the server and the user’s device. This is especially important for users on limited data plans or slow internet connections.
Conversion Rates: Faster-loading pages and a better overall user experience contribute to higher conversion rates. Users are more likely to complete a purchase if the website is responsive and efficient.
Cost Savings: Optimized images result in reduced storage and bandwidth costs for the website owner. This is particularly important for eCommerce websites that may host a large number of product images.
Compliance with Accessibility Standards: Proper image optimization includes providing alternative text (alt text) for images. This improves accessibility for users with visual impairments and helps the website comply with accessibility standards.
Social Media Sharing: Optimized images are more shareable on social media platforms. This can enhance the reach of your products and increase brand visibility.
Now that you know how advantageous it is, the question is, “How to Optimize Images for eCommerce Websites?”. Well, let’s find out.
How to Optimize Images for eCommerce Websites?
Optimizing images is an extensive process governed by a list of strategies. From choosing the best file format to resizing the images and even tactics like lazy loading, eCommerce development services implement the following strategies to ensure the best optimization.
Choose the Right Image File Formats
Image file formats are standardized specs for encoding, storing, and compressing digital images. Each format has its own characteristics, including compression methods, color depth, and support for features like transparency and animation.
Some of the common image file formats are JPEG, PNG, GIF, WebP, and SVG. Let’s take a look at a table comparing these formats based on their description, advantages, and disadvantages.
When to Use
JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)
Lossy compression image format, ideal for photographs
– Smaller file size, faster loading times – Good color depth for photos – Widely supported by browsers and platforms
– Loss of detail with compression – Not suited for graphics with sharp lines or text
– Product photos, landscapes, portraits
PNG (Portable Network Graphics)
Lossless compression image format, great for graphics and icons
– Sharp lines, text, and details – Supports transparency for layered images – Wide browser and platform support
– Larger file size compared to JPEG
– Logos, icons, screenshots, infographics
GIF (Graphics Interchange Format)
Lossless format primarily used for simple animations and icons
– Supports animation – Limited color palette (256 colors) – Can be used for memes and icons
– Large file size for longer animations – Limited color range unsuitable for photos
– Simple animations, logos, icons
WebP (Web Picture)
Modern image format with both lossy and lossless compression options
– Smaller file size than JPEG for similar quality – Supports transparency and animation (APNG) – Faster loading times for websites
– Limited browser support compared to JPEG and PNG
Vector graphics format based on mathematical shapes, not pixels
– Scalable to any size without losing quality – Excellent for logos, icons, and illustrations – Smaller file size for simple graphics
– Not suitable for detailed photographs – Requires specific software to edit
– Logos, icons, infographics, scalable graphics
So, how to choose the right image format for your eCommerce website? Well, consider these factors:
Image Content: Choose formats based on the type of image content (photographs, illustrations, icons). JPEG for photographs, PNG for images with transparency or sharp edges, and GIF for simple graphics and animations.
Quality vs. File Size: Balance the need for image quality with the requirement for smaller file sizes, especially for web applications where page load speed is crucial.
Transparency and Animation: Consider whether the image requires transparency or animation, as not all formats support these features.
Use Case: Consider the intended use of the image (web, print, professional design) to choose the most appropriate format.
Compatibility: Ensure that the chosen format is supported by the platforms and applications where the image will be used.
Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to selecting a file format for optimizing images on eCommerce websites. The eCommerce experts consider the image type, intended use and desired balance between quality and size to make the best choice.
Other than choosing the right file format, there are several other strategies that can help you optimize the images for eCommerce websites.
Resize and Scale the Images
When it comes to image optimization, the terms “Resizing” and “Scaling” are often used interchangeably. However, there are some subtle differences and distinct approaches to the two.
Resizing refers to changing the overall dimensions of an image (width and height) in pixels. Imagine shrinking a physical photo to fit in a smaller frame.
Most image editing software and online tools offer resize options. You can specify exact pixel dimensions or use percentages to scale the image proportionately. That prevents them from exceeding display areas, creating unwanted scroll bars, or appearing distorted.
Here’s what you need to do for resizing:
Maintain aspect ratio: Always resize proportionally to avoid squishing or stretching the image, making it appear unnatural.
Target image resolutions: Use different resolutions for desktop, mobile, and other devices to deliver optimal viewing experiences.
Balance quality and size: Larger images will offer higher quality but take longer to load. Find a sweet spot for acceptable quality at a reasonable file size.
Then, there’s scaling. It is a broader term that encompasses adjusting the size and proportions of an image, often in relation to a specific context.
While scaling can involve resizing, it may also include techniques like cropping (removing unwanted parts) or adjusting specific elements within the image. Scaling allows you to fit an image into a specific space or achieve a desired visual effect, like zooming in on a product detail.
Here’s what you need to consider for scaling.
Preserve key elements: When cropping, ensure the essential parts of the image remain visible and informative.
Maintain overall composition: Scaling shouldn’t disrupt the natural balance and flow of the image.
Test on different devices: Check how resized and scaled images appear on various screens and devices to avoid unexpected distortions.
Resizing and scaling the images will help you ensure a better user experience, faster loading times, and higher conversion rates on your eCommerce website. But making sure you find the right balance between visual quality and file size is key to achieving optimal results.
Compress the Images
Image compression is a powerful technique for reducing the file size of your eCommerce website’s visuals without compromising visual quality significantly. This translates to faster loading times, improved user experience, and better SEO performance.
There are two types of image compression:
Lossy Compression: Removes redundant information from the image, resulting in smaller file sizes. However, some detail is inevitably lost, especially in complex images. JPEG is a classic example of lossy compression.
Lossless Compression: Reorganizes image data efficiently without discarding any information. This preserves the original quality but often leads to larger file sizes than lossy compression. PNG is a popular lossless format.
Professional eCommerce developers usually opt for lossy compression when it comes to photographs. But in the case of graphics and icons, lossless compression would be much more suitable.
To help with this optimization technique, there are several compression tools and techniques available:
Image editing software: Most software like Adobe Photoshop or GIMP offer built-in compression options.
WordPress plugins: If you have a WooCommerce website, WordPress plugins like WP Smush and ShortPixel offer convenient compression solutions.
Progressive JPEG: The Progressive JPEG technique delivers a blurry preview of the image initially, followed by a gradual increase in quality as it downloads, reducing perceived loading times.
These tools and techniques will help you optimize the images and significantly improve the website performance and user experience. That leads to increased conversions and sales.
Enable Browser Caching
Browser caching is a technique that stores static website resources, like images, scripts, and stylesheets, locally on a user’s device after their first visit. So when a user revisits your site, their browser can retrieve those resources from its cache instead of downloading them again from your server. That results in significantly faster loading times.
Here’s what you do to enable browser caching for image optimization on eCommerce websites:
Set cache headers: Your web server can be configured to send appropriate cache headers for different resources, indicating how long they should be cached.
Leverage plugins: Many content management systems (CMS) like WordPress offer plugins that simplify browser caching setup.
Use a CDN: Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) distribute cached content across multiple servers, further reducing loading times for users in different locations.
The benefits of browser caching for eCommerce websites include faster page loading times, reduced server load, improved SEO, and enhanced user experience. But browser caching can be a little typical for those without the skills and resources. For them, an eCommerce development company would be much more helpful.
Implement Lazy Loading
Lazy loading is an image optimization technique that delays loading images until they become visible in the user’s viewport. That significantly improves the website performance and user experience.
Instead of loading all images on the page at once, lazy loading prioritizes those initially visible in the user’s browser window. The remaining images are then loaded progressively as the user scrolls down, revealing more content. That reduces the initial page load time, ensuring a smooth and responsive browsing experience.
Here are a few ways to implement lazy loading on your eCommerce website:
CMS plugins: Many content management systems offer plugins specifically designed for lazy loading images.
CDN integration: Some Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) offer built-in lazy loading features for cached images.
When implementing lazy loading, make sure you prioritize above-the-fold images. Also go for placeholders to display different elements while images are loading. It prevents layout shifts and maintains visual consistency.
Also, track your website’s loading times and user behavior to assess the effectiveness of your lazy loading implementation.
Integrate CDN for Better Image Delivery
Slow loading or blurry images are among the most common reasons behind bad user experience on eCommerce websites. That’s where CDN or content delivery networks come in.
A CDN is a network of geographically distributed servers that cache and deliver static content, like images, videos, and scripts, closer to users’ locations. That means instead of requesting images directly from your server, users get them from the nearest CDN server. That reduces the latency and improves delivery speed.
Here’s how you implement CDN for optimizing images for eCommerce websites:
Choose a CDN Provider: Research and compare different CDN providers based on factors like network coverage, pricing, feature set, and ease of integration. The popular options include Cloudflare, Amazon CloudFront, Akamai, etc.
Sign Up for an Account: Create an account with your chosen CDN provider. You’ll usually need to provide information about your website and domain.
Configure your CDN Settings: Access your CDN provider’s control panel to customize settings related to image compression, caching, security features, performance, and more.
Integrate your Website with the CDN: The integration method varies depending on your website platform and CDN provider. Common methods include DNS record changes, plugins or extensions, and code modification.
Test and Monitor: Once integrated, thoroughly test your website’s performance to ensure images are loading correctly from the CDN. Use tools like PageSpeed Insights or GTmetrix to measure loading times and identify any issues.
CDNs are among the best techniques for optimizing images for eCommerce websites. They will help you enhance the image delivery speeds, improve user experience, and boost SEO for your eCommerce website.
Optimize Alt Text
Another significant technique for optimizing images on eCommerce websites is optimizing alt text. It is a concise and descriptive text attribute added to the HTML code of an image tag. It serves as a substitute for an image when the image cannot be displayed, and it provides context and information about the image.
Here’s how you can optimize alt text for images:
Be descriptive and specific: Clearly describe the image’s content, including its subject matter, key details, and any relevant actions or emotions. Avoid generic descriptions like “product image” or “photo.”
Use relevant keywords: Incorporate keywords that are relevant to the image and your website’s content to improve search visibility. However, avoid keyword stuffing or making the alt text sound unnatural.
Keep it concise: Aim for alt text that is concise and informative, typically between 100-150 characters. Focus on the most important details.
Consider the context: Tailor the alt text to the specific context of the image’s use on the page. Describe its relevance to the surrounding content.
Use complete sentences: While not always necessary, using complete sentences can provide more context and improve readability for screen readers.
Don’t repeat surrounding text: The alt text should provide additional information, not simply repeat what’s already visible on the page.
Leave blank for decorative images: If an image is purely decorative and doesn’t add content value, leave the alt text attribute empty.
Optimizing alt text is a simple yet powerful way to enhance accessibility, improve SEO, and provide a better user experience for all visitors to your eCommerce website.
Image optimization is an ongoing process. Make sure you regularly review and update your images to ensure optimal performance and user experience. That will help you improve the conversions and sales effectively.
If you want the best results for your eCommerce website through image optimization, I suggest you opt for our eCommerce website development services. We’ll implement the above-mentioned and more tactics to ensure all images on the eCommerce website are well-optimized.
FAQs on How to Optimize Images for eCommerce Websites
Q1. Why is image optimization important for eCommerce websites?
Image optimization is crucial for eCommerce websites as it helps improve page load speeds, enhances user experience, and boosts search engine rankings. Optimized images reduce bandwidth usage and ensure faster loading times, reducing the chances of potential customers abandoning the website due to slow loading.
Q2. What is the recommended image file format for eCommerce websites?
The recommended image file format for eCommerce websites depends on the type of image and its purpose. JPEG is ideal for product images as it offers good quality with smaller file sizes. PNG is suitable for images with transparency, such as logos or icons. GIF is commonly used for animated images or simple graphics.
Q3. Can image optimization impact SEO for eCommerce websites?
Absolutely! Image optimization plays a crucial role in SEO for eCommerce websites. By optimizing image filenames alt text, and compressing file sizes, search engines can better understand the content and context of the images. This helps improve visibility in image searches and overall SEO performance.
On eCommerce websites, one of the most important elements that impact the performance and user experience are the images. So you need to optimize the images on eCommerce websites to boost conversions, enhance SEO, improve user experience, reduce the server load, and much more.
Here’s how you optimize the images for eCommerce website:
Ankur Shah is a tech-savvy expert specializing in eCommerce solutions. With a deep understanding of WooCommerce and Shopify, he helps businesses optimize their online stores for success. Whether it's implementing new features or troubleshooting issues, Ankur is your go-to guy for all things eCommerce.
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