The eCommerce business owners who put website page performance at the top of their list of priorities are those who see the big picture. They understand that the online user experience is much more than flashy images and pithy tag lines. They consider page response times to be just as important.
Speaking of those flashy images, however, often times, they are the culprit behind slow-to-load web pages – one of the first reasons a website visitor will leave a site. Unless visitors absolutely have to access your content, there’s no reason for visitors to waste time waiting for a page to load when they could get it somewhere else in less time.
With little effort, however, performance gains can be made by using progressive JPEGs. For the tech savvy, progressive JPEGs are “the JPEG equivalent of the interlaced GIF Graphics Interchange Format.” This is according to the editors at TechTarget.com who explain that progressive JPEGs are “created using the JPEG suite of compression algorithms.”
To get an idea of how this alters – and improves – the user experience, TechTarget.com editors continued by explaining how progressive JPEGs allow the image to “‘fade in’ in successive waves of lines until the entire image has completely arrived. Like the interlaced GIF, a progressive JPEG is a more appealing way to deliver an image at modem connection speeds. Users with faster connections are not likely to notice the difference.”
The goal behind progressive JPEGS is that if they appear faster, they are faster. Perceived speed is as important as actual speed. Progressive JPEGs achieve this goal by gradually displaying an increasingly detailed version of the image being rendered without having to wait until the entire file has finished downloading.
For those who use them, progressive JPEGs give a real competitive advantage, considering less than 10 percent of the JPEGs in use on a typical website are progressive. A bonus is that executing on progressive JPEGs can be a relatively low-cost endeavor. Essentially, the only cost involved is the manpower behind it.
Free tools, such as the jpegtran tool, can be used to convert from a base JPEG file to a progressive JPEG file. It can be easily installed on most computers and is especially simple using the thorough instructions outlined on phpied.com. This tool removes unnecessary metadata, such as comments and Photoshop metadata, but leaves the pixel data alone with no loss in image quality. The same can be done with PNG files using free open-source tools like PNGCrush and PNGOut.
Doing so, however, does come with a warning. Stripping the metadata from an image file can be interpreted as a copyright infringement. Be sure to consult your legal counsel prior to taking such steps. Further, when removing metadata from a file, you may also be removing authorship and copyright information, allowing that image to be freely used by others; it is no longer your exclusive IP.
Progressive Thinking for eCommerce JPEGs