The JPEG image format is known for rendering vivid and stunning photos, especially on websites. However, many websites experience this downside where using too many JPEGs lead to a slowing of page load speed. Keeping website load time to a minimum is crucial for attracting and retaining traffic. You can significantly improve your page load speed if you choose progressive JPEGs over baseline JPEGs, along with a premium web hosting provider. It’s understandable if you are confused by the two terms. Read ahead to find out more information on this topic and understand why you need to use progressive JPEGs on your website.
The Difference between Baseline Progressive JPEGs
Baseline JPEGs can be roughly defined as standard JPEGs everyone uses. A progressive JPEG, on the other hand, is created using compressed algorithms. These compression algorithms load the image in successive stages. If you were to watch a progressive JPEG load in slow motion, you notice that large, blurry pixels loading first and then the image gets clearer. On the the other hand, baseline JPEGs load line by line from the top to bottom.
The Advantage of Using Progressive JPEGs
Obviously the biggest advantage of a progressive JPEG is that there’s less bulk thanks to compressed algorithms. Less bulk means your site can load quite fast without anything slowing it down. Progressive JPEGs are particularly useful for mobile responsive themes. Mobile sites can easily get overwhelmed by bulky images. So, progressive JPEGs are an excellent and speedy solution to slow-loading baseline JPEGs.
Visual Impression of Speed
Not only do progressive JPEGs actually load fast, they give the user the visual impression of loading really fast. Baseline JPEGs load part by part, so if the loading is stuck, the user knows that the web page is not loading as fast as it should. With progressive JPEGs, the image appears in whole, even if blurry, and gets clearer, so the impression is that the image has already loaded.
Reduce White Space when Loading
Baseline JPEGs unceremoniously leave large swaths of white space when loading line by line. Progressive JPEGs do not pose such aesthetic problems so you can definitely improve the overall user experience on your site by switching to progressive JPEGs.
High Browser Compatibility
Progressive JPEGs work well with all popular internet browsers, including Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer. Even less used browsers like Opera have high compatibility with progressive JPEGs. Problematic browser compatibility issues only affect users of Internet Explorer 8 or below. Progressive JPEGs can load even if the browser is not compatible. However, in this scenario the image will only appear after fully loading.
Creating Progressive JPEGs
Image software by default save JPEGs in the baseline format. So you will have to convert the baseline JPEGs to progressive ones using a tool.
If you are using an image editor software like Photoshop, you can choose to save JPEGs in the progressive format. Something similar can be done with Fireworks and ImageMagick. However, with this latter two, you will have to manually load the image on the software program and then resave it.
Until very recently, a program called Smushit was the most popular tool to convert baseline JPEGs to progressive ones. Smushit is no longer in business. The latest and best alternative is Kraken.io, which is a converter tool for JPEGs. You can access it online or through platforms like WordPress.