Getting Started with Images – An Introduction

get-started-images

Images drive engagement. One manifestation of this phenomenon is the wide popularity of sites like Instagram, Dropbox and Facebook. Their popularity would plummet if they didn’t place such a premium on photos. The same applies to catalogs.
Here are some findings of the importance of images:

1) Catalogs with images get more total views.

2) Consumers are more likely to consider a product in a catalog when an image shows up.

3) At least 60% of online shoppers say the quality of a product image is “very important” in making a product purchase.

4) In an online store, customers think that the quality of a product’s image is more important than product specifications, a long description, and ratings.

5) Engagement rate of Facebook posts with photos is 37% higher when compared to posts without photos. We dont have the exact numbers on hwo this relates to catalogs, but it is probably in the vicinity.

Many companies approach Catsy with an interest in creating their first catalog. Typically, the first line of confusion is image formats and how to make the best use of their images. The purpose of this article is to eliminate the confusion surrounding the different formats. Further complicating things is very few know the best way to use each format. You’ve probably seen things like JPG, TIF, GIF, and PNG and wondered exactly what they were. All are images, but represent different image formats. Each format has its own pros and cons which we will go through below:

JPG: This has been a very common format used on the Web for a very long time. The reason is that it is a highly compressed format, so the size of the file is typically much smaller than an uncompressed format. When bandwidth was more of a concern, this was extremely important because the smaller the file size, the quicker the web page would load.

The downside to JPG is that it uses “lossy” compression: in a nutshell, this means that along with the smaller file size, there is a relative loss in image quality. Each time a “lossy” format is re-saved, some additional image info can be lost, which means you could eventually see artifacting: a situation where pixels become colors they ought not to be. This means your image could take on a “blurry”, “smudgy”, or “jaggy” look.

TIF: This is a lossless format, and the resultant high quality is still considered among the best (if not the best) when it comes to commercial work. One downside of a “lossless” format such as TIF is the file sizes can become quite large. Another drawback from the standpoint of the Web: browsers cannot display TIF images natively. There are 3rd party add-ons you can use to enable viewing TIF’s in a browser–so it is possible–but it’s certainly not an ideal format for web display.

GIF: One of the oldest formats, even older than JPG. This format was designed to keep image sizes small also (this is back in the days of modem speed). You still see GIF’s in use today on the Web, although it has one major limitation: it is 8-bit color only, which means a maximum of 256 colors can be handled. As such, this is a format you just couldn’t use in most photo-realistic situations. But, in cases where only few colors are needed, this is still a viable option.

PNG: This is a relatively newer format which shares some properties of both JPG and TIF. On the one hand, it is a compressed format so the file sizes are kept at a minimum, which makes it ideal for the Web. However, unlike JPG, it uses a “lossless” compression which preserves the quality of the image much better than JPG does. Also like TIF’s, it can support transparencies within the image. On top of everything else, PNG is also natively displayed within a Web browser. Given the outstanding balanced feature set of this particular format, it’s no small wonder that it’s increased in popularity in the Web community.

So, why are JPG’s still used at all? One simple rule of thumb is this: JPG is better if you are displaying a photograph or realistic images. PNG is better for line art, text-heavy images, and images with fewer colors. This is because PNG’s lossless compression is better at displaying text within an image, where clarity is important. JPG would tend to artifact (which is VERY noticeable when there is text as part of the image), although it tends to handle high-color photos better.

With this information, you should be better armed to add some zing to your catalogs, improve engagement with your audience, and drive sales.

Click here to learn more about ONEsource, and IMAGEsource – our product information database and see how we are helping growing organizations get the benefit they need to sustain growth by leveraging the various tools you need to manage your digital assets.