Published July 30, 2012

Ways to Scale Images

Now that you know what scaled images are and have identified which images to scale, it is time to pick an image editor. Your choices range from paid option Adobe® Photoshop® to unpaid options Photoshop Express, Aviary Phoenix and PicMonkey.

Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop is the gold standard of desktop photo editing. If you have a copy, lucky you. If not, you can subscribe to Photoshop for $20 per month for an annual contract and $30 for a month-to-month contract. Given our simple need to scale (i.e., resize) images, Photoshop is more tool than is required.

Unpaid Image Editing Options

All three image-editing options are available free online. Each allows you to load/import an image, resize it and save/export the resized image to your computer.

Photoshop Express

Photoshop Express encourages you to sign up now but allows you to test drive the editor, as well. Support is limited to JPEG file type only. The resize workflow requires you to select Custom, before you enter the new width or height. Surprisingly, the quality of the resized image was the poorest of the three unpaid options.

Aviary Phoenix

The Aviary Phoenix image editor allows you to import/export images without registering and supports four file types: GIF, JPEG, PNG and PSD. While the editor is feature-rich, the resize workflow is clean and intuitive. Better yet, the quality of the resized image was excellent.


PicMonkey is the simplest of the three image editing options and my first choice. It has no registration and supports two popular website file types: JPEG and PNG. In addition, it allows you to save JPEGs using one of three preset levels of size and quality. The resized image closely matched the quality of the original and the first resized image using Aviary. The file size dropped from 252 KB to only 8 KB, a savings of 96%.

Lossless Compression

Resized and losslessly compressed thumbnail image of Downtown Seattle, WANow that you have resized your images, there is another step: compress them using Yahoo SmushIt. Resizing your images could actually increase their file sizes. Losslessly compressing them maximizes the benefit of serving scaled images, which is to reduce your page load time. The SmushIt workflow is easy to follow and the results are impressive, all without the loss of any image quality. In our example, SmushIt reduced the 8 KB resized image an additional 5 KB, for a total savings of 99% versus the original.

Repeat the Page Speed Analysis

Before you declare victory, repeat the analysis using Page Speed Online. Then share the results [not the means] with other SEOs, clients and coworkers. They will be impressed. More important, the Web site visitors truly will appreciate the fast user experience you helped to create. One day soon, Google and Bing might reward you with more unpaid search traffic, too.

Please send us your comments about Ways to Scale Images. I especially am interested in hearing your thoughts about doing work traditionally done by content creators and Web developers.

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