Why Site Speed is Important to Photography Sales

How to make a fast photography websiteOur attention spans are shrinking by the millisecond? Yes, that’s right. Sad, but true, people almost rarely read. They scan. Fact is, you are probably skimming through this very article. And that’s fine. But do stick with me on this.

I completely understand how excited you must be to share images with your clients and the world, but think again about how your site works from the client’s perspective.

If each of your images needs to be displayed and quickly, you have to be sure they are using a fast computer and have a fast connection. That’s just not something you can control is it?

Why Your Site is Slow

What you can control are the quantity of the images you decide to display, the quality of those images and your choice in technology to serve those images to your potential clients.

I’ve seen plenty of website galleries and blogs where they post lots of images from a session. I define “lots” as a number beyond 12. Instead of 30 images (or more), why don’t you consider paring it down to 6 to 12 of the very best images that shows off your unique style and approach.

You should save the full client gallery for a private, password-protected section of your site. I happen to use Musea as a clean and elegant option to do just that.

If you do want to display a variety of images, I highly recommend using Fundy’s Blog Collage (affiliate).

File Size and Quality of Images

Let’s talk about file size and quality of your images. While we are all toting around mega-pixel cameras, directly posting those RAW files or native JPG files online isn’t an option. I still receive image files from well-meaning friends that are 2 megabytes in size via email and I politely ask that they resize and resend them.

Resizing an image in Photoshop is quite simple. Use the crop tool and set all of blog posts at a specific dimension. I have mine sized at 700×465 pixels. After they are cropped, sharpen the image for web use. Then go to Photoshop’s menu. Under File, scroll down to “Save For Web & Devices.” You will see a window pop open, giving you a few choices on what settings to use. I almost always choose JPG at a Quality setting of 70. In the main window, you’ll see options for “2up” or “4up.” Click either one to see how your settings will change the optimized version. Once you are happy with the changes, simply click Save, to save a version of your file to a folder of your choosing.

Example of saving for web in Photoshop

In the sample above The 2-up tab is in the top left, quality is shown on the right, and filesize on the bottom. I took a photo from 248K to 30K when I saved it at 70% quality.

If all of that sounds tedious, don’t fret, there is a way to automate it so that you can crunch through a folder full of images.

Lastly, if you are using Flash on your site and the large images you have chosen to display need to “load” before being presented on the screen, your visitors are going to look elsewhere for another photographer. There are alternatives to a Flash-based website. HTML5-based sites and blog sites are at the front of this list for speed and searchability.

Hosting is the technology holding your website on the Internet and displaying those pages to potential clients. Who you choose as a web host can impact site speed. For example a site hosted in Australia may load more slowly for a person visiting in the U.S. The size and quality of the host matter as well. Find a reliable and fast web host to insure customers get the best online experience possible. BlueHost (affiliate) consistently ranks high for their reliability. Plus, their customer service is awesome, when you do find yourself in a pinch.

A Client’s Mindset is Speed

So, why go through all this trouble? Take a moment to imagine your client’s mindset – they have about a zillion things to do during the days and months ahead of their event. A bride or groom, planning a wedding has little time to get a fairly good idea about your work. Remember they have to find other professionals during their lunch break. If you are a portrait photographer, the same holds true. Everyone is stretched for time. They need to find what they are looking for and see some of your work fairly quickly.

Here’s a good test. Let’s assume from your Google Analytics users spend an average of 4 minutes on your site. How many images do you see on your site after navigating for four minutes. How many of those were your best work? A faster site means users see more of your work! Try Pingdom to see how quickly your site loads:

Seshu's site tested using Pingdom

Google Analytics (Content > Site Speed > Overview) also has a report.

Google Analytics Site Speed Graph

Benefits Of A Speedy Site

From a marketing perspective, it behooves you to have a fast, reliable and consistent website. You want clients to connect with you? Then make it easy for them to do so.

Heck, even Google is now ranking sites based on how quickly they display their text, audio, video and yes, images.

It makes sense doesn’t it? The faster a site displays quality and qualified content to the viewer, the more credible the site is. The more credible you are, the easier it is to connect to you and the likelihood is greater that you will seal the deal.

Photo credit: sports photo by Remy Photography

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