I don’t make it a regular habit to post these “blogging help” posts. After all, this is an interior decorating/DIY blog, right?
But when I come across something that I believe can help my fellow bloggers, I like to pass along that info. I’ve previously spilled the beans on how I do those nifty “quick view” before and after pics. Then I told you how to get more traffic with “alt” tags on your photos.
Well, today I’m back with more info on photos.
Have you ever been on a blog that takes FOOOORRRRR….EVVVVVV…EEERRRRRRR to load? There are several culprits that can lead to slow loading, such as third party gadgets on the sidebar, different slow-loading advertising servers, etc. In fact, on my own blog, I’ve noticed that ever since I installed a third party commenting system, my load times are slower…something I hope to correct in the near future.
But the biggest culprits are photos, especially if the blog is one that utilizes many, MANY photos in each blog post.
Uploading photos directly from your digital camera, without resizing them first, is one of the quickest ways to slow down your blog, and potentially frustrate the heck out of your readers. There are actually a couple of blogs that I used to really enjoy, but I’ve stopped reading simply because of the frustration I felt every time I had to sit there and wait for all of the pictures to load, and then as I’d scroll down the page, I’d have to wait again as the browser was working overtime to load more pictures. And I’m on a newer Dell laptop with high speed internet! I can’t even imagine how frustrated those people on older computers must be, and if they’re one of the 10-15% of home internet users who are still using dial up, then just forget about it!
Well, I don’t have time to sit and wait for slow-loading blogs, and neither do your readers. I know the tendency is to think, “Well, I want my photos to be clear! I don’t want blurry, low quality photos!”
Resizing your photos doesn’t make them unclear. Let me show you the difference between two photos that are vastly different in size (both physical size and file size).
This first photo is straight from my mom’s digital camera. The picture is 3872px wide X 2592px high. That’s MASSIVE! In fact, you should be able to click on the photo to see just how massive it really is. I uploaded it and then used Live Writer to rescale the photo so that it’s 550px wide. I left the photo at 300 dpi. That stand for “dots per inch”, which means that in every square inch of the picture, there are 300 “dots” across, and 300 “dots” down, for a total of 90,000 “dots” in every square inch. This photo file is a whopping 1.78 MB.
(That photo might also be causing your screen to “jump” as you scroll down…another frustrating thing I experience on blogs that don’t use resized photos.)
Now below is the same photo resized. I used my Paint Shop Pro program to reduce the actual physical size of the photo to 550px wide X 368px high. I also reduced the DPI from 300 to 72, which is standard for the internet. Doing those two things reduced the size of the photo file from 1.78MB to 56.5KB. In other words, the photo above is about 32 times the size of the photo below.
While you might be able to tell a slight difference between the two photos, I certainly wouldn’t say that the first photo is 32 times better than the second photo! Would you? (In fact, that first photo may even look distorted on your screen because such a large photo is being squeezed into such a small space.)
Of course, if you were to click on the photos above and zoom in, you’d see a vast difference. I used my photo editing program to zoom in on the candle holder on the coffee table in both pictures, making them approximately the same size on the screen, and then took screen captures to show you the difference. This is what the large photo file looks like…
You can see that I actually had to zoom OUT on the large photo (viewed at 80%) to make the candle holder that size on my screen. Because the photo is so large, if I had it at 100%, it would have been HUGE.
Now here is the zoomed in view of the candle holder on the resized photo…
As you can see, I had to view that photo at 600% is actual size to get the candle holder to look that size on my screen. You can see how pixelated it is.
So why would you want the pixelated picture on your blog? Because the chance that your readers are going to click to see the full-sized photos so that they can view every tiny detail of the photo is slim to none. Again, if you scroll up and compare the two photos of the living room, you can see very little difference between the two as they appear on the blog. But the file sizes (and therefore, the time it takes to load on your blog) are vastly different.
So to wrap up, here are the three things that need to be changed on each photo before you upload them to the internet to be used on a blog:
- Physical size of the photo: There’s absolutely no need to upload a massive photo and then rescale it to a smaller size on your blog. This resizing needs to be done in a photo editing program BEFORE you upload the file. I love consistency, so each photo that I use on my blog is resized to 550px wide for horizontal pictures, or 550px high for vertical pictures.
- The DPI (dots per inch): Your digital camera probably takes photos at something like 300 DPI, or possibly even higher. Again, this number represents the number of “dots”, or pixels, that are found in each square inch of the photo. 300 DPI means that each inch of the photo has 300 pixels across, and 300 pixels down, for a total of 90,000 pixels per square inch.The standard for photos used on the internet is 72 DPI. You will have to learn your photo editing software to find where to change this on your photo. On my Paint Shop Pro, I click on “Image” on the top menu, and then click on “Resize” to change both the physical size AND the DPI of the photo.
- The file size: Chances are that if you’ve changed both the physical size and the DPI of the photo, the file size will automatically be taken care of. However, it’s still a good habit to get into to check the file size before you upload your photo. I’ve seen some pretty massive files being used on blogs, and there’s simply no need for it.A good rule of thumb is that each photo should be less than 100KB in size. That’s certainly not a hard and fast rule, but it’s just a good guideline. But if you’re uploading pictures that are 1500KB in size, that’s WAY.TOO.BIG.The process for changing the file size of a photos may differ from program to program, but generally you change it from the “Save As” option. Click on “Save As”, and then look for a button that says “Options”. This will generally take you to a screen where you can adjust the file size of the photo.
So those are the keys to faster load times with photos. Test it out on your own blog, but also keep your eyes open when visiting other blogs. If you happen upon a blog that loads really slowly, take a peek at their photos. Right click on a few photos, then click on “View Image Info”. It will tell you the actual physical size of the photo that was uploaded, and if the photo was “rescaled” to a smaller size. You can also see the file size of the photo.
So do your readers a favor, and resize, resize, resize!!!