Optimizing Images for Websites

Images are an essential element when it comes to grabbing readers’ attention and breaking up long paragraphs of text. Images educate, emphasize, and elaborate. The more images used, however, can gradually slow your browser’s speed, increase the size of your pages, use up storage on your server, and ultimately increase the page load time for your visitors.

The answer is optimization.

The first thing to pay attention to is the image format. Most images will allow you to save them in various file picturesformats. Typically JPEG or PNG are used for the web. JPEGs are prime for photographs as they compress the colors well and don’t lose quality. PNG works better with screenshots or graphic images. Because of PNG’s higher compression quality, however, those files will be larger. Sometimes this payoff is worth it for the clear quality. Even though GIFs are usually used for animated files, the format also can be used for low-quality pictures with few colors or smaller files. Avoid putting larger pictures in GIF format, as this usually significantly reduces the quality.

Another aspect to note is which category the image compression is: lossy or lossless. A lossy compression loses quality while taking up a small amount of space. Lossless gives you the exact quality of the original image but uses a greater amount of memory.

JPEG = Lossy

PNG = Lossless 

GIF = Lossless

Most graphic editing applications allow you to save your image for the internet, usually labeled something like “save for web & devices.” You want to select the lowest size possible without losing image quality. Try to keep your images under 70kb.

Decorative images such as buttons, banners, and borders can take up more space than you can afford. Avoid this by putting simple patterns in GIF or PNG-8 format to reduce the overall size. Look for areas where you can replace pictures (such as colored sections or backdrops) with CSS styling. Are you using a wallpaper background image? Try playing around with the size. There is usually a bit of wiggle room between how much you can decrease the size before it starts visibly decreasing the quality as well. A neat trick is to crop the center of the background image out or replace it with a filled color. This will reduce the size considerably and, as long as the content covers the center, your viewers will not notice a difference!

Testing Website Speed

Today’s fast moving pace and notoriously short attention spans require speed nearly above all else. Having slow website speed can quickly deter viewers from your site, cause them to lose patience, and seek services or solutions elsewhere. Your website’s speed does not only affect the page’s loading time, but also issues that may revolve around scripts, fonts, or plugins.

A variety of things can cause slow speeds on your website. Non-optimized images drag out the loading time. Another possibility is render-blocking JavaScript or CSS. Incorrectly configured Content Delivery Networks also hinder optimal speeds.

A few terms to know before you get started:

TTFB (Time to First Byte) means the time between your browser making the request from the server to the browser receiving information from it.

Page load time refers to how long it takes for the web page to completely load. This includes all CSS, image files, and Javascript, everything required to allow full interaction from the user.

Page rendering time on the other hand is the time it takes for the web page to be ready for any interaction. Some parts of the page may load slower, such as slideshows or images, but the user is still able to interact with the other aspects of the page.

A few helpful services:

Speedtest provides mobile apps or Android, iOS, and Windows cell phones, as well as the usual online services, so that you can measure your device’s connections as well. Once you get your speed results, you can take a look at your service’s performance history and then compare it to locations close by or across the world.

TestMy is a trusty service that has been around since 1996. As an independent third party, TestMy is committed to providing you with an accurate speed. It logs test results, tests internet speeds, and tests your upload speed. Additionally it provides testing tools on Android and iOS devices.

Pingdom splits your results into four categories: performance grade, requests, load time, and page size. The overview helps you to detect the areas most in need of optimizing.

GTmetrix is very detailed, providing information about page speed and yslow scores, recommendations for improvement, details about page load, and in-progress updates for how any changes you make affect the speed.

Remember that whatever scores you come up with should primarily be used as a guide. Some optimizations can reduce your speed score despite having improved the load time or have other incompatibility issues that result in display flaws. The tests are most useful during the process of working to optimize your site. Testing between different improvements can give you a feel for what works best. Remember to clear your cache before and between tests!

The Benefits of Minecraft Game Server Hosting

There are many benefits of renting a server to play Minecraft on instead of hosting it independently on your own computer. The game process takes up a significant amount of space on RAM, CPU, and bandwidth, not to mention the strain that multiple players will have on the speed of your internet connection. Odds are you will end up lagging and spending your time frustrated instead of enjoying the game with your friends.

minecraft-blockA Minecraft hosting server is built specifically to maintain that high activity, with fast internet connections and uptime improvements. This is a much less stressful option in comparison to owning your own Minecraft server host, which would require an extensive understanding of networking computers as well as having to leave your host computer turned on and connected to the internet at all times – which can lead to overheating and other complications.

Minecraft hosting servers are specifically built to support smooth gameplay and make your experience headache free.

Our game servers are affordable and have a 14 day money-back guarantee. All our servers have as standard features SSD-based RAID storage, multicraft Control Panel, unlimited storage, no overselling, unlimited slots and more!

While there is no limit on the amount of players who can join your server, we offer recommendations for the optimal number of members for each increment of RAM.  Each of these recommendations has been tested internally to ascertain the best performance level to support that amount of players.

We offer many benefits and options for optimizing your gaming experience.  The bottom line is that our Minecraft hosting server gives you a lag-free, headache-free, fast, and fun gameplay with your friends!

Optimize WordPress Performance

Whether you are running a WordPress blog for high-traffic business purposes or with a more low-key personal focus, you will want to optimize your performance for smooth and efficient running.

A universal quick fix option is to install a plugin such as W3 Total CacheWP Super Cache or our personal favorite, Zen Cache to store your blog posts and pages in a static format to be presented to users. This greatly decreases strain on the server’s processing load.

For shared hosting, your options are slightly limited, but it is still very possible to speed up your site! After caching plugins, look into browser caching. This will decrease the amount of requests per page by storing the unchanging files on the user’s computer, allowing the browser to check if the files have changed rather than automatically requesting them.

wordpress-logo-simplified-rgbIf you run a site with very high traffic, web server caching is more complicated but promises results.  It offers a wide range of options. On a basic level, it can cache locally in the background while other more complicated systems use multiple caching servers up front where WordPress is actually running.

Plugins can slow down your performance considerably if you have a large amount or unnecessary plugins. Before you start deleting though, try deactivating each one separately for a time to see the effect on your site’s speed. From there you can discern which plugins to deactivate and delete.

Optimize your theme by looking for unnecessary images or ones you could replace with text. Having the incorrect format for the type of image can also slow your site down. Check that all image files are optimized with the correct form (JPG/PNG/GIF). Reduce the number of files by merging all CSS files together. A plugin to help minify and condense files is Head Cleaner.

Offload static files and images (JavaScript or CSS files for example) to a different server. Feeds also are simple to offload.  Google FeedBurner, for example, is a service that takes care of the traffic for you, while still keeping up with feed updates.

Look into free hosting services, particularly for images.  Flickr and Imgur are both popular options.  The only downside to consider is that corporate networks often block picture hosting websites.  Additionally watch out for the copyright rules in the service’s disclaimer, as you might not want to share your rights to original pictures.

For virtual hosting and dedicated servers, check back later for a post dedicated to optimizing WordPress performance on those specific servers.