Let’s Get Visual: Best Practices for Digital Image Management

Oct 04, 2017

Article ImageOffering rich, interactive images has emerged as a critical component to any website or web app visitor engagement strategy -- and with good reason. According to a Skyword study, articles that include images get 94% more total views than those without. As a result, we’ve seen more and more businesses offering an increasing amount of engaging imagery, such as 360-degree product views on ecommerce sites, media companies expanding their online creative content, and streaming sites presenting titles through compelling, interactive graphics.

While engagement is critical to securing customer loyalty and driving higher conversions, it’s important that businesses understand the negative effects that poorly managed image content can have on web performance and their customers’ online experiences. For example, a slew of images stored for every use case, screen size and device often add unforeseen weight and complexity to a website or app, which can lead to slow page load times, increased bounce rates, decreased customer engagement, and ultimately, missed revenue capture.

For those seeking to deliver the most engaging visual customer experiences without sacrificing performance, here are five best practices:

  1. Make sure all paths to your content are optimized—Chances are visitors will navigate through a series of pages before reaching your image or video. This means that each and every page on the path to that content must offer a great experience. You could spend countless hours (and dollars) planning and designing your best infographic or video, but if your customers are experiencing page load times of more than two seconds on the path to that content, they could abandon your site and never even make it to your work of art.
  2. Go all in on mobile—With mobile shopping revenue exceeding that of brick-and-mortar last year, and a whopping 57% of users saying they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site, providing optimal mobile experiences is more critical than ever before. It is imperative that companies don’t waste resources on a mobile app or website that makes the user experience more complicated than convenient -- and that starts with image management. Make sure you are routinely conducting an image weight analysis for both desktop and mobile users to uncover how images might be impacting the visitor experience.
  3. Adapt to new customer behaviors—Looking at trends on social media, Twitter, and Facebook really started the visual trend, but now you have social networks such as Instagram and Snapchat that are all about visual engagement, with minimal or no text. This behavior is changing customer expectations as well. They need to be able to “touch and feel” the online products before making a purchase decision, or visually see what a news or media article is about before opening it. Therefore, businesses need to adapt to this new behavior in order to satisfy their customers.
  4. Automate and integrate—Consumers require dynamic images at lightning-fast speed. But disparately creating all the right web images on your own isn’t exactly cost-effective or web performance-friendly. Seek out the right image management solution that can integrate seamlessly into your CMS, storage, and publishing workflows and can automatically optimize image size, quality, and format without having to add JavaScript to your pages. Simplify and automate your image workflows, don’t overcomplicate them.
  5. Don’t let your “hero” be a zero—Marketers love hero images -- the images that take up a majority of real-estate on a homepage or landing page, designed to drive higher engagement. What marketers don’t know is that these images alone are often one of heaviest assets on a website or app and a root cause of poor performance. If a hero image is taking up a ton of room on a website and affecting performance, marketers, and web teams should take the time to discuss how they can optimize the image to strike the right balance between performance and quality for their customers and brand.

In a world where images take up more than 63% of the average web page weight, image management is critical to any web optimization strategy. By adhering to best practices, ecommerce companies and online content publishers will produce lighter pages, resulting in faster web performance which, in turn, can lead to higher engagement, and greater conversion rates.

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