How to create fast loading, beautiful images for an awesome blog (and website)

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Having an awesome blog is a key element of your Content Marketing mix. Blogging for your business helps; drive traffic to your website, establishes your authority. Plus it's great for social media marketing and helps boost your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Adding images to your blog creates impact and engagement, so let's look at some important factors you need to consider.

Why fast loading images? (page speed)

Fast loading pages are becoming increasingly critical to your website visitors experience. Managing page load speed is a multifaceted process with many on-page and off-page factors affecting how quickly a page loads. I'm not going to go into all of the possible factors here.  I am going to focus on one factor that you can manage and that has a big impact on your website page load speed – your images. The photographs and graphics you place on your pages and blog posts as you update and add to your websites content. These are typically the largest element (based on bytes) on your page with regard to content type.

A fast loading web or blog page is a critical element of your users experience. Your visitors care as much about how fast your content loads as how beautiful and useful the content is.

In addition Google recently added this as a probable ranking factor, (take a look at Google Page Speed Insights). Most of the time the biggest 'weight' on a website page are your images. So managing your images correctly on a regular basis will go a long way in helping your pages load quickly and help the performance of your website and the way you promote on social media.

Check out why speed matters:
• Google Page Speed Insights
• Moz's insight into Page Speed
• Google's developer insight into images and page speed

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Why beautiful images? (creating that WOW factor)

Creating regular blogs and content is critical to driving traffic and promoting your business. Great blog posts increase engagement, help showcase your insight and expertise and provide social media content with which to reach out to your audience.

With an ever saturated digital landscape, standing out is a major factor. Adding stunning and relevant images to your blog posts content can really add a Wow factor that considerably increases interest, engagement and 'Shareability' of your content.

The right images can certainly enhance your blog post content:

  • Images break up large blocks of text
  • Images increase engagement
  • Photos and graphics draw the reader to your key messages
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Fast loading images. How to make sure your images aren't too big and are in the right format

Before adding your images to your blog post content, aim to optimise them first. Try to get the dimensions to match the exact size you need them on your blog post. For example, the feature image on this blog post is 1020px x 400px.

Crop them to give them the most impact and try to use the 'rule of thirds' - view here on wikipedia

Understanding image formats for the web:

  • JPGs (JPEGs) The best quality and a nice small file size, perfect for eCommerce sites where you need your products to look amazing.
  • GIFs These are best used for thumbnails and decorative images. Typically low resolution, small file size and limited quality
  • PNGs A good alternative to JPEGs and GIFS. PNGs are great for transparent images, they can have great quality and reasonably small file sizes.
  • SVGs (Scalable Vector Graphics) SVG's can be created in Adobe Illustrator. Used for icons, graphics or logos. They are vector graphics that work on the web (photos are raster images.) SVG's create small file sizes and scale without losing clarity. They are flexible, look good on HD or Retina Displays and typically load quickly.

Image file size

Aim for under 1MB, less is better. There are a few online tools that help you compress images before uploading them to your blog. Check out the Useful Resources at the bottom of this article.

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Images on a WordPress Blog

If your website or blog is built on WordPress there are some great Plugins to help with optimising image file size compression right in your dashboard. WordPress is optimised for speed out-of-the-box and does have some file compression facilities. However, it helps with their file size if you optimise your images still further.
Here are a couple of my current favourites (at time of writing, there are many more):

WP Smush - Image Optimisation
Imsanity- Imsanity WordPress Plugin

The WordPress dashboard in action.

Visually beautiful

It can be a great option to choose images from the stock libraries or download free-to-use images from one of the free online libraries (make sure you check any copyright details). There are some really stunning images available.

However, it may be worth investing in unique images that are harder for your competitors to reproduce, find or replicate. Helping you to stand out online. Set aside a good amount of time to research and carefully consider the images you place on your blog content. Make sure they enhance and fit with your copy, tone of voice and key messages. Take time to do deeper research into images that perhaps haven't been seen very often already online.

Why not take photographs yourself?
You don't need to be an expert photographer and often hand crafted images can give your blog its' own character and individuality. Most smartphones have high quality cameras, however I would recommend editing any images before you upload them, so they are cropped and colour adjusted for maximum impact.

Commission an photoshoot.
Booking a full or half day photoshoot with a professional photographer can provide you with a whole bank of photographic images you can use for all of your marketing. If planned well you can end up with hundreds of professionally shot images that you can place in your blog posts. Plan and story board before your photoshoot is underway to make sure you cover all your needs.

When researching, commissioning or taking images consider the following:

  • Fits with your brands tone of voice
  • Fits within your brands colour scheme
  • Complements the page or posts content
  • Visualises a point your trying to make
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Going social

All the social media channels have preferred image sizes and specifications for post content. Social updates have much more impact and click throughs when they have an image. So make sure your images are optimised towards these social media specifications. If your images are too large you may end up with a white or blank space on your 'image post' because the image is too large in file size. Not great when promoting content.

Check out the ideal Social Media Image Sizes.

The Takeaway

It's a business priority to produce promotional content online. Having an awesome blog post with impactful images is certainly a priority. Spend your time making each blog post really valuable (one outstanding blog post is loads better than lots of mediocre posts). For fast loading, awesome images on your blog, follow our tips plus our checklist:

  • Make sure you create a 'Hero' or 'Feature' image for each post that can summarise the topic.
  • Make the image original and relevant.
  • Check that the image file size is not too large. Under 1MB is great. Less is even better.
  • Place several images around your content to break up large blocks of copy.

Need assistance with Content Marketing, Creative Content or Marketing Funnels?
We can help you. Take a look at our services.

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Need help with your website images?

Look no further, contact us to discuss your website or blog image requirements.

Useful Resources

Image editing software (available at time of writing):
TinyPNG: A Photoshop plugin
PicMonkey: Free online image editing
Pixlr: Photo editor online
FotoFlexer : Online photo editor
GIMP: The Free & Open Source Image Editor

Or if you want to invest:
Adobe Photoshop
Adobe Lightroom

Free online image resources:
Unsplash
Pixels

Arttia Creative on Instagram.
Instagram

Our trusted photographers.
Haydn Grey
The Bigger Picture Agency Limited