Image optimisation is something often neglected by developers as many fear their images may lose some quality and the design might not look as it should, it is a fine line between a well optimised image and an image that has lost image quality.
Why should I optimise my images?
There are several reasons why you should, well optimised images use less bandwidth and keeps the server load down which will be cheaper in the long run, especially those who have bandwidth plans/limits on their hosting accounts.
The main reason is load times, we are all aware by now that Google “penalises” slower loading sites so that alone is enough to talk you into optimising you images, also many users have slower connections and use smartphones and other mobile devices on 3G and image rendering times on slower connections can be time consuming and irritating for the user.
How should I optimise my images?
This is personal preference, Photoshop and Fireworks both offer reduction techniques but I feel the picture quality can drop considerably using these, I have listed a few tools I use and find offer a good level of optimisation but keep a high picture quality.
Shrink-O-Matic is an Adobe Air application which you use locally from your machine, you can drop in multiple images and it even supports transparent PNG images, this is my favorite tool as you don’t require an internet connection to use the application.
Smush.it is a well know tool by the good folks at Yahoo! Again it offers high quality image optimisation and is used in browser, whats great about Smush.it is it also has a very useful and FREE WordPress plugin.
JPEGmini is a tool I have recently starting trying out, the results in my opinion equal the results from Smush.it and Shrink-O-Matic and has a very easy to use interface which I feel will be an attraction to its users.
Only three tools?
There are countless tools and techniques for image optimisation on the web, I have mentioned a few I have used and find to achieve the goal in the best way. I could have listed 20, but I firmly believe in sharing what I know rather than offering you tools I have no experience of for the sake of a bulkier article.
Please feel free to suggest any other tools you might have used or any techniques you have used within your own projects, I don’t claim to be an expert by any stretch of the imagination!