I’ve run into a lot of varied challenges while building websites and apps over the last two decades. Every project I’ve tackled has presented unique problems, but one consistent issue has been figuring out the best way to deal with images. Every part of the image workflow is difficult; Image files are bulky, and there are lots of formats to deal with. This results in a lot of time spent processing images, and a lot of storage space required for derivatives.
imgix’s dynamic image workflow abstracts those complexities. A traditional image flow might look something like this:
- A user uploads an image. For this example, let’s say it’s a profile photo.
- A server running ImageMagick or a similar program creates derivative versions of the uploaded image. For something like a profile photo that’s used in many contexts throughout a site or app, the number of derivatives for each upload can be quite high. I’ve seen derivative counts in the dozens before!
- The original image and generated derivatives are uploaded from the image server to a permanent storage location, e.g. Amazon S3.
With imgix, the process is inverted. Instead of generating all derivatives up front, they’re requested and generated on the fly. Each derivative can be created easily by changing the appended parameters in the image URL. This allows developers a lot of additional flexibility, letting them solve some long-standing problems in new ways.
When it comes to e-commerce, study after study has shown that compelling imagery gets more clicks, leads to longer engagement and drives more sales. Pictures sell. It’s no longer up for debate.
But despite the importance the e-commerce industry puts on showcasing products with beautiful images, significantly less thought is given to how those images affect web performance. In the rush to optimize how their websites look, many e-commerce professionals ignore small tweaks that could make a big difference to how they load.
This, we think, is a mistake. The simple fact is that page load speed has a huge influence on a host of other behaviors, and image performance is one of the biggest contributors to perceived load speeds. By avoiding a few common errors, e-commerce professionals can get the most out of their imagery.
Here are the most common image mistakes we see the e-commerce industry making.
One area where we get a lot of questions is around purging images. Although purging is a familiar concept to anyone who has previously worked with Content Delivery Networks, or indeed any distributed system that needs to sync data between nodes, the concept is not the most intuitive, and every purge system functions differently. New users sometimes have an incomplete understanding of the purge process, and that can lead to confusion when the system performs differently than expected. For that reason, we thought some clarity around how image purges work in imgix would prove helpful.
One of imgix’s core values is giving our customers flexibility in their image storage. We believe you shouldn’t have to move your images onto another storage system to take advantage of our imaging infrastructure, which is why we offer multiple ways to connect to them where they already live.
Our existing Amazon S3, Web Folder, and Web Proxy solutions cover a wide swath of our customers’ needs, and we’ve now added support for the Google Cloud Storage™ service as well, a much-requested option.