Improving Mobile Speeds Using WebP Images

After testing the speed of your website using Google Lighthouse, our own Test My Website Page Speed, or another speed checker; you will probably want to be making some changes to improve your website’s page speed. As Google ranks websites based on their page speed and rewards fast-loading websites, particularly when searching on mobile devices.

In this modern world, people often expect things instantly - and it is the same when browsing. Therefore fast page speed is crucial if you want to keep and gain new customers. If your website is running slow, the chances are that you are losing out on potential business. In fact, 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load, and would you blame them? Nobody likes waiting for a website to load, so ensure that you make some changes, to get your site running super fast.

Large Images = Slower Website

Images are of course a vital part of a website, as they enhance the user experience, bring your business’ story to life, and are also important for SEO. However, the size of the images on your website have a large effect on the page speed; and on a mobile connection, the pain of waiting for the images to download is even bigger. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t use high quality, content rich images, you just have to find the right balance.

The Fix?

Luckily, we have a suggestion for you! In order to enhance your page speed, Google suggest reducing the size of your images, and therefore changing the image format used. This is because the most common formats for online images are JPEG or PNG, and these are considerably large sizes and slow to load.

Image formats WebP and JPG2000 (NextGen formats) are a more efficient choice, as they will dramatically reduce the download size and, therefore enhance your page speed. So what are they?

What Are WebP Images?

The WebP image format was developed by Google in 2010, and they state that WebP lossless images are 26% smaller in comparison to PNGs. This would make a huge difference to the speed of the site on mobile, and therefore reduce the amount of users leaving the site (bounce rate) due to it taking too long to load. WebP images provide both lossless and lossy compression for images on the web; and it’s capability makes it a potential, and effective replacement for JPEG, PNG and GIF image files.

Lack of Support

Although we’d like to say that WebP images are the only image format you should be using for your website, there is one drawback for WebPs. This is the lack of universal support, mainly on modern browsers. As it is developed by Google, it is obviously supported by Google-backed software including Chrome, and Android apps. As of 2019, it is also supported by Edge and Firefox, however it is a concern that Apple do not yet support WebP images. This makes it hard for any website to only use WebP images, as they risk their images not showing up on certain platforms/browsers. 

A Solution!

Don’t fear! We have a solution that we use on our own websites, where we serve WebP images. A way to continue to use WebP images on modern browsers, is the more widely supported <picture> element. This website element can load the WebP image(s) when they are supported in the current browser, or it can supply a fallback image format (e.g. JPG or PNG) if not supported. This can therefore be used to serve an alternative image format, until all modern browsers, including Apple, fully support WebP images.

Although image sizes play a huge part in the speed of a website, it is not the only reason why your site may be running slow. Ascensor can do an audit of your website and provide suggestions of how to enhance the page speed. Get in touch today to find out how we can help your site perform at its optimum speed.

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