Image optimisation (IO) is no longer something businesses can overlook, especially if they depend on their websites and applications. Images that are slow to load detract from the user experience and create a negative first impression. With an edge cloud platform, you can streamline the way you transform, cache and serve content, to give users bandwidth-efficient images on whatever device they’re using.
39% of people stop engaging with a website if images take too long to display. With visuals accounting for half of the average web site’s content, seamless content display is critical. And it’s going to become even more so. In five years, three quarters of internet users will access sites from a smartphone, yet the average web page currently takes 87% longer to load on mobile.
With content competing for people’s attention, minor differences in performance can have a huge impact on engagement.
Strategies holding businesses back
Image optimisation involves decreasing file size to improve load speed, take up less space, save on bandwidth and can enhance SEO too.
The standard strategy is to create images beforehand for common devices and resolutions and save them in a central place or repository, pulling them when they are needed.
But creating different variations of each image is only a temporary solution. Device fragmentation and higher resolution technologies mean you’ll soon need an ever-expanding range of different versions of the same image.
Pre-processing is also a repetitive activity and is not an effective use of developer resources. As the variations build up over time, the storage costs plus egress costs to origin to retrieve each image start becoming prohibitive.
Searching for simplicity, speed and control
There are solutions to boost content delivery, each with benefits and drawbacks.
Open source tools don’t require a license, but they don’t solve problems relating to time-intensive work or storage. Companies still have to manage the image workflow. Additionally, IO is not cheap to run, and the computing, delivery and storage bills send companies looking for a more cost-effective solution.
Specialised image services automate optimisation, but add complexity to your stack, latency to your network and give your team a new vendor to manage. Customers using a content delivery network (CDN) would need to decide what content to send where. Images would go via one vendor, and other content through another. Dealing with multiple vendors takes time and many companies would prefer everything to be handled by a single vendor.
Certain CDNs automatically manage the process of IO. The CDN caches a site’s content and stores it on a network of servers, and users receive files from the server closest to them. This reduces load times, but CDNs have traditionally provided developers with limited control and visibility.
So where does that leave you? Businesses need modern CDN functionality that delivers images on demand, while reducing costs and improving productivity. That’s where an edge cloud platform comes in.
Platforms like Fastly are transforming and serving images from the edge. Operating at the edge of the internet, and closer to customers, means less latency, simplified workflows and reduced infrastructure costs.
If your website sees a large number of daily web visitors, you frequently change web visuals, or process large amounts of images, using Fastly’s edge cloud platform makes a difference.
Without the need for pre-processing, time and internal resources can be freed up for other tasks. The API automates the once manual process of resizing, cropping and setting the right output quality. There is also no need to define logic rules for every visitor’s profile, as you can offload image transformation logic to the edge. This allows you to detect visitor attributes like device and geolocation at the edge for faster image transformation decisions. JPEG, WEBP, PNG and GIFs are all supported as input formats, while output formats can be JPEG (baseline and progressive) and PNG (8, 24 and 32-bit). Animated GIFs can be transformed into bandwidth-saving MP4 (H.264) video files. Thanks to that feature, Buzzfeed was able to condense their popular 250 MB, browser-freezing “100 Greatest Gifs of all Time” article to a much more manageable 6 MB.
Sites deliver images when needed, but with a reduced storage footprint and fewer requests to origin. This creates real savings in the total cost of ownership for your site. By using Fastly’s Image Optimizer retailer Boden reduced the average size of its static content by 30%, while ecommerce platform Big Cartel improved its delivery speed 250 milliseconds. The platform’s SSD-powered high-density points of presence cache more content for longer, reducing egress costs and the amount of times images need to be fetched.
Full control over user experience
IO is integrated into Fastly’s edge cloud platform. Where other CDNs provide limited control, Fastly gives extensive visibility. Real-time logs a show how customers interact, while instant configurations allow edit, deploy and rollback changes in seconds, allowing businesses to fine-tune user experience. For those that fear high implementation costs or worry about replacing their CDN setup, Fastly’s IO is an easy add-on that can operate alongside your existing CDN environment.
Hello to faster websites
Image Optimizer delivers smoother, faster experiences while giving developers time to focus on core tasks. To see how much bandwidth you can save, Fastly is offering a free report; where experts will analyse your site.
Request your report here.