SNOW IO — Automatically Cures Image Bloat So Your Responsive Website Loads Faster

October 7th, 2014 by

Designing for optimal presentation of content on mobile devices is keeping website developers very busy. If you’re a publisher of dynamic news or manage a website on which people transact, ensuring it displays perfectly on every mobile device and all the major browsers (i.e. on tablets and mobile phones, as well as desktops) is essential. Responsive web design has emerged as a popular web design methodology to address this need.

But adopting responsive design is not without its challenges. For example, if you’re moving from an older website architecture, you’ll need to redesign the site from the ground up. Back in 2013, Forrester Research[i] reported that more than 40 percent of developers chose responsive design, or a variant of it, as part of
their current web design approach. The same report also noted some degree of “hype and lack of understanding” associated with responsive design, especially with regard to best practices for its implementation. And, if best practices are not adopted, it’s quite likely a responsive website will not perform well on mobile devices across cellular networks — essentially defeating the purpose of using responsive design.

Optimizing website performance on mobile devices is a core focus of our development team, so we’ve been following the progress of responsive design with interest. A few months ago, we analyzed the performance of some popular responsive sites on smartphones and tablets and noticed some surprisingly long load times. Closer investigation revealed that large images were often the cause. This is the sort of problem that can be easily fixed with lightweight, server-based technology that can detect what sort of device is accessing the website, and then optimize accordingly.

That’s why we developed SNOW IO, which we just announced. SNOW IO is designed specifically for use with responsive websites, and can make a huge difference for your users if your site features a lot of images (think news blogs, ecommerce sites, etc.). When you add SNOW IO to your site, every image is automatically optimized for device, quality and speed. Then, when someone visits your site, device-specific, optimized images are served up for that visitor’s specific device. As a result, load time can be at least twice as fast because less network bandwidth and device CPU time are needed.

SNOW IO works with any responsive website development framework and requires minimal changes to your coding — generally, just the addition of some special tags to trigger the device-detection logic. Adding it is very easy since SNOW IO is a web server plug-in that’s compatible with Apache, Java and Microsoft servers. If you’re running IBM WebSphere, SNOW IO can be installed as a simple add-on module to IBM WebSphere Commerce. Commercial and OEM licenses are available.

To find out more, contact us and we’ll be happy to evaluate how SNOW IO can make a difference on your website.

 


[i] More Than Hype: Determining When To Use Responsive Web Design, Mark Grannan & Peter Sheldon, Forrester Research, November 2013

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