Slow page load times impact customer perception of your business, and Google tends to treat you badly too. Most websites are impacted by the huge images tour operators tend to rely on (and for good reason- read this blog to see the benefit of using images to sell tours). Images should be in the <300 kB region, however, we noticed some clients using images as high as 30 MB! This prevents the display of images over a slower internet connection.
Most websites and their load times (read our ever-popular guide to creating a website from scratch) will suffer if the images are too large. Once we figured out the problem, we also implemented the solution!
Solution to slow website speed: Image compression
We implemented and tested several algorithms for image compression and finally settled on something that performed the best and was most suited for our system. All images uploaded to your tour website built with Vacation Labs are compressed by at least 80% using the Smart Lossy Compression algorithm.
Done incorrectly, image compression reduces quality. But the Smart Lossy Compression algorithm was built to reduce details (like colour spectrums) not needed for websites. For example, a high-res DSLR image will retain its quality even when blown up, say, 15-20X and printed. This level of image retention is useless for a website because the image render is predictable and limited (by screen sizes of phones, tablets, laptops, etc.)
The algorithm uses this intelligence to combine colours (quantizes colours on a stricter spectrum range). Thus, a 24-bit image reduces to 8 bits with no difference on the screen.
Original download speed
New download speed
We were also able to change the page load algorithm itself, and now the page starts loading immediately (as opposed to the ‘loading icon’ showing up). A low quality grainy image gets loaded first on a very poor connection, which improves gradually as more data gets transferred- improving visitor experience, and web-page bounce rates decrease drastically.
Faster websites are now live and activate for all users of the Vacation Labs website builder. Images up to 7 gb can be uploaded and they will be automatically compressed.