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How Does Compression Work?

When web pages are initially being built, sometimes there is not enough time to review all the images, files, and code being added to the page. In the spirit of trying to get a project done, ensuring that all these assets are optimized gets left behind. And once that page goes live, only then will you see the effects of non-optimized code, images, CSS, etc. Data compression is the process of reducing the size of a file, while keeping the integrity, or quality, of the file. In other words, compression removes all the unnecessary “bloat” from files and ensures you are working with an optimized file.

Common Use Cases for Compression

One of the most common uses for compression is with images. You want your website to look polished with high-resolution images, but these large files can cripple your website load speed. Running your images through a compression tool can dramatically decrease the file size, while maintaining quality. Your users will not even know the difference.

Another example of where compression can be used is within files like CSS, HTML, JavaScript, videos fonts, etc. Again, when a page is in the development stages, there can be unnecessary spaces, notes, etc., within these files. All of this adds to the time it will take the browse to parse and process the files. For example, how the HTML content is structure is important for the developer, but to a browser, it does not really care how it is visually structured. All the extra characters are unnecessary and take valuable time that could otherwise be used to reduce page load time.

What Tools are Used for Compression?

There are a few tools, like GZIP, WinZip, and 7-zip that you can take advantage of to reduce file sizes, no matter the file type or format. And some of these tools, like GZIP, are built into WordPress, for example, so that compressing files can be carried out automatically as your pages are built. There are also many free, third-party tools that you can take advantage of to quickly compress files, but just ensure that the tool you use supports the file type you are compressing. In some cases, if done incorrectly, it can lead to the file sizes becoming larger, so make sure to research your tool thoroughly.



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