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BizReport : Internet : September 17, 2014

Research reveals which website image format results in happier visitors

The most-used image format used on websites can be frustrating for users. New research by Radware and neuro-marketing consultancy NeuroStrata reveals which image format is the best at keeping your website visitors happy.

by Helen Leggatt

It's not neuroscience, well, actually it is - but poor image optimization on websites has been found to have a significant impact on user experience. That's because, says Tammy Everts, performance evangelist for Radware, us humans are very visual.

"As images comprise over 50% of the weight for a typical web page, this neuroscientific study shows that serving images faster on your website does have a direct and measurable impact on the user experience," says Everts.

The study, for which Radware commissioned neuro-scientific research consultancy NeuroStrata, involved 250 participants whose emotional responses to three different image renderings were captured and analyzed using facial analysis software. Participants were also required to divulge their attitudes and expectations about online images.

The results show that default image formats, used by the majority of websites (95%) do not provide the highest level of user satisfaction. Furthermore, images that take too long to load frustrated 65% of participants and more than half (51.4%) waited for "most or all" of a website's images to load before they began interacting with that website's content.

Overall, 50% of the study participants felt that the way in which images load does affect their online browsing experience.

"As we live in a visual age, the speed with which images load on a website tends to be an important issue," says Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson, chairman of Mindlab International. "Research suggests that a consumer may experience mental fatigue when presented with a relentless flow of complex information on a website. When images are presented in a two-stage process - a method found in Progressive JPEGs -the brain has to work slightly harder to make sense of what is being displayed and in turn, increases frustration levels of the viewer."

In their recent report, 'Progressive Image Rendering: Good or Evil?', Radware examines three image-rendering techniques - Original (standard lossless image), PerfectImage and Progressive JPEG - to discover which provides the most effective consumer response.

Turns out it's PerfectImage, "a proprietary image format currently in development at Radware" but not yet available to Radware's customers.

The report also provides image optimization tips and tricks such as compressing, prioritizing, delaying 'below the fold' images and reformatting.

Tags: image, image optimization, research, website design, website experience

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