There is probably nothing more irritating to me than to visit a website that takes FOREVER for it to load. If I am surfing the internet for something special, and run across a site that takes longer than a few seconds to load – believe me, I am on to the next site that came up in my google search! I don’t suppose I am much different than the average surfer or shopper on the internet – so to me this means that if your site is slow to load – don’t expect too much business from it!

While there are many reasons a site can be slow to load – one reason can be because the images you are using are too large in file size. Zen cart will automatically resize images based on the perimeters you set up under Configuration>Images in your admin area. BUT, zen cart does not optimize the images – they need to be optimized prior to putting the images up on the server.

I always recommend to clients that they make sure their largest image they use for products on their zen cart stores is no more than 600 pixels wide by 800 pixels long. If you have a photo that you upload that came off a digital camera – sometimes those images can be over 2500 pixels by 2500 pixels! That size alone would slow down a website if there were alot of images being served up that large.

If you have ever been to a site where you see an image that starts “developing” or showing at the top… and slowly shows the complete image – the reason for this could be that the original image on the server is huge, or that it is not optimized. Images that are not optimized for the web, will not only slow down the loading of the site but also use alot of bandwidth.

I have a client that is hosted on one of my dedicated servers that ran into this problem. In only 2 weeks time, her site used up a little over 25 GIGABYTES of bandwidth! No, she had not sent out an ad campaign to 5000 people or received hundreds of orders a day from her site… so traffic was not the issue. She told me that her images had been down sized to no more than 600×800 pixels, and was afraid that maybe people were hotlinking to her images.

Based on that statement, I took a look at her images folder in her zen cart and found that, while the images were indeed reasonably sized pixel wise, the file sizes were huge. I looked at her web stats and saw that over 95% of the 25 Gigabytes of bandwidth was attributed to serving up images. There were almost 1900 images in her images folder and all total they were 160 Megabytes.

I promptly used an image optimizing program, and reduced those images by 75% in file size which made them 44MB which is much more reasonable – and the images did not noticibly lose quality.

There are many great programs that will help you with optimizing the filesize of your images. A couple of free image optimization programs can be found here:

Radical Image Optimization Tool

I like these programs because they are free – no strings attached – and because you can optimize many images in a folder with just a couple of clicks of your mouse! I have found that if you have more than 900-1000 images in the folder, this program runs out of memory. But it is well worth the time to divide the images into separate folders to get the results you want. They also wont “overwrite” your original images, it saves the optimized images in a separate folder.

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