Practical Ecommerce

The PEC Review: Online Image Optimizer Speeds Load Times

A slow-loading retail site is akin to the store clerk who ignores you in a brick-and-mortar shop.

On a recent trip, I stopped at a small antique store. My wife and I entered the store, walked around for about 20 minutes, examined dozens of items, and never once during the entire experience did the store clerk look up from his book or acknowledge us in anyway. It is possible that I would have made a purchase in spite of the poor service. But a ready and able attendant may have encouraged me.

This unattentive store clerk is analogous to a site that doesn’t load quickly. It just leaves the shopper waiting expectantly.

There is even some evidence that shoppers become annoyed by a slow loading page after just two seconds. So site owners and marketers really do need to take every step possible to make their pages faster.

One approach to this performance challenge is to optimize any images that you use on the site. DynamicDrive, a provider of DHTML scripts, has created Online Image Optimizer, a free service that can dramatically shrink your image files, and thereby speed up loading of the page that includes those images. For helping to shrink image files, I am awarding DynamicDrive’s Online Image Optimizer three and a half out of a possible five stars in this “The PEC Review.”

“The PEC Review” is my weekly column aimed at introducing you to the products or services that I believe will improve your ecommerce business. This week, let me show you how to use Dynamic Drive’s Online Image Optimizer to shrink files and potential improve page load times.

Video: Using Online Image Optimizer

 

Create Smaller Files

The DynamicDrive Online Image Optimizer’s chief feature is that it reduces image file size. As such, reviewing or judging the tool begins and ends with this singular task. So let me give you some data.

I asked the Online Image Optimizer to shrink a PNG file that I am planning to use in a tutorial I have been working on for Ecommerce Developer, Practical Ecommerce’s sister publication. The image is a 24-bit PNG file that weighed in at 228KB. Running that file through Online Image Optimizer generated several versions of the image, including the one I chose to use, an 88.7KB version that reduced the total file size by approximately 61 percent.

 

Ease of Use

After its file shrinking capabilities, I most like this tool’s ease of use. It is in no way complicated. Rather, you browse to select an image and click the “optimize” button. There is nothing more to do.

Two Things I Would Change

There are two minor things that I would change about this tool.

First, when working with JPG files, the optimizer can, in my opinion, reduce image quality. And given a choice between page-load times and image quality, I would have to make a case-by-case decision.

Second, I wish there was a way to upload batches of images. As is, you will have to individually optimize all of your product or site images.

three and one-half stars

The 300KB Limit

I also need to note that Online Image Optimizer only works for images up to about 300KB. Images that start larger than this won’t return a result.

Summing Up

DynamicDrive’s Online Image Optimizer is a free-to-use and easy-to-manage tool for shrinking image files. It is best employed to shrink images that are decreasing site performance, which is why I have awarded it three and a half out of a possible five stars in this, “The PEC Review.”

Armando Roggio

Armando Roggio

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Comments ( 2 )

  1. Andrew July 26, 2010 Reply

    Thanks for the review Armando! Slow sites drive me nuts! Forwarding this to friends :).

  2. PeteF July 27, 2010 Reply

    As you mentioned, shrinking image file sizes effects the quality of the image. The best way to reduce the time it takes for a web page to load is to reduce the amount of requests between the visitors browser and web server the site is hosted on – you do this by smart bundling of images and scripts on every page that way you don’t need to reduce the quality of your images which on my ecommerce site is a priority – my images sell my product. If you use something like WordPress then there’s a few GZip and optimization plugins you can try or is you have deeper pockets then the best solution out there is Aptimize. I don’t think compressing image file sizes is the best fix for a slow website.