This is a guest post from Cloudinary, a cloud-based image and video management solution. We are always looking for ways to help companies deliver digital experiences that will meet customers expectations in terms of content and performance. Tackling these 5 challenges is a good step towards delivering a top-notch digital experience.
We are in the midst of a great evolution when it comes to website design. Formerly text-heavy sites now rely on eye-catching images and video to draw in visitors, improve engagement rates and drive readership. These results are proven. Articles with relevant images get 94 percent more total views, according to digital marketing expert Jeff Bullas. And images are vital to websites influencing page views and user engagement for news articles, press material, local search, eCommerce, and social media.
The addition of rich media is not the only factor impacting web design today. Changing user behavior also plays a role, considering that they now want access to content anytime, anywhere, from whatever device is at hand, whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, laptop, smartwatch, TV or the traditional desktop computer.
When you’re addressing these two trends in website design, there’s no doubt you’re running into some significant problems:
- Large files slow down site performance and frustrate users.
- Images and videos don’t look right as users switch from device to device.
- Content users upload varies in style and quality.
- It can be time-consuming and complex to deliver custom content.
Here we look at the top five content management challenges you need to tackle now. In addition, we’ll tell you how to fix them, so you can optimize website performance, minimize bandwidth usage and give users have a top-notch experience:
#1 – Improving Site Speed
The size of the average web page is growing and with that the time it takes to load. According to HTTP Archive the average page is now 2.5 MB, of which more than 60 percent is comprised of images. At 1.6 MB, the amount of images downloaded for a page is now greater than all the content of an entire web page two years ago.
The rise in page size impacts the performance in terms of load time. This slowdown contributes significantly to page abandonment. Nearly 40 percent of users will abandon a page after 3 seconds. Mobile internet users probably experience the most frustration, with 73 percent noting that they’ve encountered a website that was too slow to load.
To minimize load time, and increase speed and customer engagement, you’ll need to optimize your site. There are numerous ways to do this:
- Use modern and efficient image formats, such as WebP or JPEG-XR, instead of JPEG.
- Eliminate wasteful browser-side resizing by creating multiple images with different sizes to be delivered to various browser settings rather than delivering a large image and relying on the browser to resize it.
- Use content delivery networks (CDNs) to improve speed to visitors from all around the world.
#2 – Implementing Responsive Design
Mobile is now the primary way in which users consume information in the U.S. according to Comscore.
It’s not only that mobile is outpacing desktop, but the proliferation of mobile devices makes it a constant struggle to ensure images and videos look and operate properly on various devices and resolutions. This is addressed by responsive web design, which enables the same website to adapt to these different devices.
There are tools available today, like the Responsive Image Breakpoints Generator, that enable you to easily and automatically find best breakpoints for each image and optimize the resolution and size of images for use in web and mobile apps on a variety of screen sizes.
Some web developers may be torn between adaptive and responsive design. It’s important to consider the difference between the two: Responsive websites adjust dynamically to any browser width, whereas adaptive websites adapt to the width of the browser at specific points only. Ultimately, responsive design offers a better user experience, is easier to implement and is more SEO friendly.
#3 – Managing Videos
Video is becoming a primary component of websites – from the videos that owners are using on their sites to attract visitors, to those being uploaded by users. Combining video with full page ads boosts engagement by 22%, and after watching a video 50% of executives will look for more information after seeing a product or service in a video, according to Hyperfine Media.
But it’s not just the number of minutes of video being uploaded – it’s the resolution. Today’s devices are made to handle high-resolution video. As a result, 4K video is increasing in popularity. But the huge resolution translates into long upload and download times; need for increased storage space; and intensive processing to convert, resize and manipulate these videos.
You must normalize and optimize 4K and high-res video specifically for web and mobile devices. Leveraging responsive technology enables you to deliver the smallest file size while still maintaining the highest visual quality to match the user’s device, browser and network speed.
#4 – Administering User-Generated Content
User-generated content plays an important role for many websites. According to Forrester Research, only 14 percent of U.S. consumers trust brands, but 48 percent trust other users. Analysis has shown that some ads based on user-generated content have click through rates that are 300 percent higher than traditional ads.
But you face numerous challenges, most prominently having the time to police the content uploaded by users, and then unifying the images to ensure that the various formats, sizes, resolutions and style are consistent with their website standards.
To ensure the user-generated content fits nicely on your site, you’ll need to choose the right resolution and adjust original media for the highest quality for each channel – such as Facebook or Google+ – and each browser setting. You also should enhance media to be more eye-catching and increase user engagement, as well as personalize them with watermarks of logos or text captions to ensure you get credit if an image goes viral.
#5 – Personalizing Content
Consumers expect unique content tailored to their needs and interests. Amazon masters it, with 56 percent of consumers indicating that the online retailer clearly understands their needs, according to Swirl Networks.
While Amazon makes it look easy, delivering such personalization takes time and resources to be effective. Consider that the average B2B site gets about 20,000 visitors, and global B2B sites exponentially more, a unique page would have to be created for every one of those visitors.
But there’s a better way to satisfy all users; just follow these best practices:
- Identify your audience and decide in advance if you want to target them by behavior – such as their interactions on your site; demographically by geography, income or other characteristics; contextually by device type, or a combination of the three.
- Select content to present to each audience. For example, some sites may personalize product images based on visitor preference, while others may customize calls to action or product offers to improve conversion rates.
- Choose the site location. High-traffic web pages with clear calls to action are the best places to publish personalized content.
There are a number of factors combining today that make image and video management more challenging than ever before. You need to learn how to work with modern formats. Plus your websites – and all media content, whether it’s yours or generated by users – must look right and work properly with the constantly changing devices and displays on the market.
Tools – like those offered by Cloudinary, the comprehensive cloud-based image and video management solution, are available now to help you adeptly handle the growing amount of media content both incorporated in designs and uploaded by users. Follow the best practices detailed here for optimizing media on your site and you can ensure that your users’ experience will be top-notch, your site and the media on it is optimized for any device at any resolution, and web performance is maximized.