Best Practices for Media files

Give your customers the best possible catalog experience by optimizing your images and other media files with our best practices guide

Updated over a week ago

There are many types of media available to you, to enrich your Flipbook experience. However, there are a few limitations you need to consider. It’s also important to keep in mind that even though a file might work, it can still create a less than optimal experience for customers visiting your Flipbook from a smartphone, or via a slow internet connection.

πŸ“– This article explains:


How big is too big?

We're pretty generous with the types, and sizes of file you can upload to iPaper, but there are a few rules of thumb to remember:

  • The maximum size of a PDF that can be uploaded to the Media Library is 1 GB (1024 MB).

  • The maximum size of a video (MP4) that can be uploaded to the Media Library is 250 MB.

  • The maximum size of any image that can be uploaded to the Media Library is 10 MB.

πŸ† Best practices for image files

iPaper allows you to use a number of different images file types in your Flipbooks:

.JPG/.JPEG: Files of this type should not exceed 500 KB, for best performance.

.GIF: Files of this type should not exceed 3 MB, for optimal performance.

.PNG: Files of this type should not exceed 1 MB, for optimal performance.

.SVG: Files of this type should not exceed 50 KB, for best performance.

.WebP: Files of this type should not exceed 1 MB, for optimal performance.

Each file type comes with its own benefits and drawbacks, and you might be creating your Flipbook from pre-existing images in a predefined format. When it comes to the images within your Flipbook PDF, we optimize them automatically when you upload a new Flipbook to iPaper.

However, images manually uploaded to your Media library are not automatically optimized. These images could be anything from shopping icons to be used as Enrichments, or images to be used in, or trigger a Display banner.

WebP vs PNG vs JPEG: When to use what

If you've ever created, downloaded or uploaded images before, you're probably familiar with formats such as .JPEG and .PNG. However, if you want to deliver a fast and web-optimized Flipbook experience, you might want to consider using WebP.
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WebP is an image file type created by Google that provides lossy and lossless image compression for the web, with typically smaller filesizes than conventional formats such as .JPEG and .PNG.

πŸ’‘ Lossy or loss compression? If you'd like to understand that difference between different types of compression, and how they can work for you, take a look at this article.

βœ”οΈ WebP has on average, a smaller file size

While one can't declare that WebP is better than .JPEG and .PNG, as a format, it does confer a significant advantage over both: WebP supports both lossy, and lossless compression (like .PNG) while delivering file sizes smaller than both its .JPEG and .PNG counterparts:

πŸ’‘ Google estimates that, on average, WebP files with lossy compression result in files that are between 25-34% smaller than JPGs of the comparable quality, and 26% smaller when applying lossless compression, than PNGs of the same quality

βœ”οΈ WebP supports transparency

WebP also supports image transparency, meaning that you can overlay a WebP image, with transparent areas, which will show the background of that which the image is superimposed on. .PNG images also support image transparency, whereas .JPEG images do not. However, WebP formats usually deliver 3x smaller file sizes than PNGs of comparable quality.

βœ”οΈ WebP supports animation

Like GIFs, WebP images can be animated. Unlike GIFS, however, comparable WebP animated files are significantly smaller in size, meaning that they are much more suitable for delivering a fast, experience.

When to use what

Despite the growing list of advantages that WebP holds over .JPEG and .PNG, deciding what file type to use is still, mostly, a personal choice. Of course, if making sure that your Flipbook has as small a total size as possible is important to you, it's worth considering WebP as your preferred file format for images.

However, regardless of what image file format you choose, the most important aspect should be ensuring that your images are properly optimized. For that, see our section on image optimization, below.

Icons for shopping enrichments

Flipbook enrichments, such as shopping icons, can add an extra, immersive layer to your Flipbooks. We've got a few rules of thumb to help you provide the best possible experience to your end-users when using shopping enrichments:

  • Icons for enrichments should not exceed 500 pixels in height or width.

For best results, icons should be uploaded to your Media library as either .SVG, or .GIF file formats.

  • .SVG is the ideal format for icons. This file type is vector-based, which means it can scale indefinitely while preserving visual quality, sharpness and is typically of a low file size. It can even be animated, allowing you to add a bit of flair to your enrichments.

    Read our guide on how to best use .SVG files as calls-to-action in your Flipbooks:

  • .GIF formats are great if you'd like to add an animation to an enrichment, but don't necessarily need the benefits of an .SVG. A great example of this can be an animation that informs a customer that an item has been added to the cart, such as a Shop button.

    Read our guide on how to best use .GIF files as calls-to-action in your Flipbooks:

Optimizing your images for iPaper

Most image creation or processing software, such Adobe Photoshop, tends to have inbuilt functionality that helps you easily optimize your images for use on the web. Using Photoshop to optimize your images for use on the internet does require a basic understanding of how Photoshop works, but we've also found a fantastic guide that can take you through how to do it:

Optimizing your Images for the Product Detail View

The Product Detail View is an Enrichment automation that allows you to present your products nicely with images and text in a frame, as part of your Shop Configuration.

To ensure that the images in your Product Detail View load quickly, and aren't blurry, we recommend that you save, and upload these images as a .PNG file.

While all other image file types that we support (see above) will also work, .PNG files combine the load speed of .JPEG files with the lossless qualities of .SVG files. Again, to make sure your images load optimally, your .PNG's shouldn't be larger than 1 MB in size.

Best practices for video files

When it comes to delivering a rich, interactive user experience in your Flipbooks, few things beat video. With that said, there are a few things to consider to make sure that they load and play well.

  • iPaper only supports the .MP4 video format.

    Why? The MP4 format offers good file compression, but doesn't compromise on image or sound quality, which makes this format ideal for Flipbooks. What's more is that the .MP4 format is fairly universal in that most, if not all, modern web browsers support it.

  • To ensure your video buffers quickly, aim to keep the file size under 15 MB. This allows it to buffer almost instantly on all but the slowest of connections.

  • Our general recommendation is to use Adobe Media Encoder, which lets you encode audio and video in a variety of distribution formats. If you are unsure on how to use Adobe Media Encoder, we encourage you to use a video creation professional. However, as a primer, we've got a great guide that can help you dial in the right settings when optimizing your videos:

  • Also consider who your Flipbook audience is, and how they browse your Flipbooks: having a video play automatically can lead to a more polished end-user experience, but it can lead to higher, and unwanted data usage for end-users visiting via smartphones in low-bandwidth areas.
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  • Keep in mind whether you decide to use .MP4 videos hosted directly in iPaper, or embed videos hosted on streaming sites such as YouTube, or Vimeo.

    • Videos hosted on iPaper are loaded and played in the quality in which they are uploaded. We also do not optimize videos for different screen aspect ratios, or platforms.

    • Videos hosted on streaming sites can be automatically optimized for the browser, device, and bandwidth of the end-user, and can give a more streamline experience. However, these sites tend to overlay their own branding and players on your videos.
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    Both options have their benefits and drawbacks, so it is down to you to decide which solution best delivers your desired results.

GIF vs Video vs WebP? When to use what.

You can use both GIFs, WebP, and video files to create beautiful, immersive Flipbook experiences for your customers. However, while the visual end-user experience might be comparable, GIFs and videos are significantly different when it comes to how devices handle, and load these files.

GIFs

The GIF file format has been around almost as long as the Internet itself, and is created and uploaded much like other image file formats, but behaves like a video, in that it can support animation.

This has long made it a favorite format for those who want to incorporate the benefits of video but don't necessarily have the capacity to produce video files.

When to use GIFs

  • CTA’s

  • Small icons

  • Simple small images (line drawings, single color borders, simple animations)

  • Short animations

πŸ‘ Pros

πŸ‘Ž Cons

Supports transparency

Maximum 256 colors

Supported in all browsers

Generally large file sizes

No interface/controls

File needs to be fully loaded to device before it plays

Old and inefficient format

Pros of using GIF files

  • Unlike video files, GIFs, being image files, support transparency. This means that you can place GIFs over, a colored background in order to build a layered, immersive look.
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  • Being a file format that has been around for some time, GIF files are supported in all browsers, meaning your end-users will be able to experience your GIFs, regardless of the device, or browser they are viewing it on.
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  • GIFs, by nature, are looping, meaning that they start over, once they have completed their entire image sequence. This can be useful for creating points of interest in your Flipbook, where the additional movement within a GIF file can draw your end-users attention. As they loop automatically, no controls or interfaces are required to control the file, which can create a more immersive experience than video can offer.

Cons of using GIF files

  • Conversely, the lack of controls or interface, as mentioned above, can also become a drawback as it doesn't allow your end-users to pause, or stop GIF files they might consider annoying or detrimental to their browsing experience.
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  • GIFs, not being a true video format, only supports 256 colors. This means that while they might work well for simpler images or animations, others that involve many shades, or gradients will be displayed in a compromized quality.
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  • In addition to the limited color palette, GIFs generally tend to have a higher file size than modern video counterparts. File sizes can be cut down by optimizing your GIFS but this comes at the expense of frame rate and number of colors: the lower the number of each, the better your GIF will perform but the wrose it could potentially look.
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  • As GIFs are techically image files, they have not buffering capability, and as such must load fully in the end-users browser before they can play. For high-speed connections, this is rarely a problem, but for visitors browsing in low-speed areas, this could lead to an incomplete, or negative end-user experience.

Video

Video comes in a variety of formats but iPaper only supports the MP4 and WebM formats.

MP4

MP4 is one of the most widely accepted video formats for Internet use, and supports streaming. This means that the MP4 video doesn't need to be locally stored (on the end-users device) before it can be played.

WebM

WebM is a media file format that was introduced in 2010 by Google. As a newer format, WebM is designed for the web, and is becoming one of the more prominent video standards supported in HTML5. Almost all modern-day web browsers run on HTML5.

When to use Video

  • Full page background

  • Quality output with full color range is important

  • Complex animations or movement

πŸ‘ Pros

πŸ‘Ž Cons

Supported in all browsers

Does not support transparency (MP4 only)

High quality

Both MP4 and WebM are lossy compression formats. Each compression means loss of quality

Low file size

Videos have to be adapted to lower resolutions for mobile view

Full color range

Video is not automatically optimized before playing (if not played from a streaming platform)

File is streamed, instead of downloaded and played

Codec can play a role in different browsers.

You can see what codecs are required to support MP4 playback, here.
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Similarly, you can see what codes are required to support WebM playback, here.

Pros of using video files

  • The MP4 format is supported by the vast majority of Internet browsers, and certainly all of the most commonly used browsers. This means that any and all of your users will see the content displayed, when it is presented as a video.
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  • The WebM format is supported by all HTML5 browsers, like Google Chrome, Firefox, Opera, however, some older browser versions may not support WebM. WebM filesare also specifically designed to support amazing video qualities, meaning very high definitions are attainable with this file format.
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  • MP4s tend to balance a sweet spot between offering high quality whilst maintaining a relatively low file size. This means that you can deliver beautiful, quality content without weighing too much on customers using low-bandwidth connections. Lower file sizes also mean that videos will load, and buffer quickly.
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  • Both MP4 and WebM provide relatively similar compression, so the difference in the sizes of the same files of MP4 and WebM formats is not that significant, but on average, WebM video files tend to be slightly smaller than their MP4 counterparts.
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  • Being a video, these files are usually streamable, meaning that visitors can begin to access, and even begin to watch them before they are fully buffered. This is especially important for users from low-bandwidth connections, and means that they do not need to download the file in order to play it.

Optimization tools to get the job done

πŸ’‘ At iPaper, we just love tools that can help you optimize your images, videos, PDFs, and other media files. We recommend TinyWow, which is a collection of online tools that can help you do just that. Best of all, it's completely free!

If you have a lot of large, high-quality images that you'd like to streamline for online use, we recommend CompressJPEG. Again, it's completely free, so give it a whirl!

Additionally, if you're using .SVG files, and would like to add another layer of engagement to your Flipbooks, SVG Artista allows you to easily add animations to your .SVG files, giving your end-users a more compelling CTA. You guessed it, it's free and easy to use. πŸ‘

Layers in Flipbooks

Your Flipbook is composed of a base PDF, along with multiple layers that can include different enrichments and media files.

Whenever you update a media element in your Flipbook, we recommend that you replace old, or unused layers with new media, rather than adding new files as a new layer, while keeping the old layer.

By removing old and unused layers, you help to keep the overall file size of your Flipbook to a minimum. This, in turn, ensures that your Flipbook loads quickly and minimizes bandwidth cost, which you impose on each of your visitors.


Finally, our Best Practices guide is just that: a guide. We always encourage you to try, and test what rich media works best to deliver your desired Flipbook experience.

You can also reach out to us via the messenger, below, with any questions you might have regarding how to best employ images and video in your Flipbooks, and we'll be happy to help you.


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