Website speed is one of the important factors to rank top in Google. Every single second counts especially with the increased mobile usage. WordPress is known for its performance and versatility. However, adding too many elements will still make your WordPress website to load slowly. Some themes can make your website looks pretty and sleek, but they often incorporate many high quality images that take longer to load. Therefore, if you want your website to run faster, image optimization plays an important role.
What Data An Image Contains?
Well, most of us do not aware that images also contain data. It is called EXIF data or Exchanges Image File. You can check some of the EXIF data when viewing the image properties in Windows or macOS. Below is an example image taken with iPhone 6. You can view the complete details of the device, aperture, exposure, etc. when viewed on MacBook.
For a normal website owner, all these data in the images are redundant and not at all required. Therefore, you can compress and remove these data to reduce the size of the images before uploading on your website.
What Other Factors Affect Page Speed?
In addition to EXIF data of the images, there are many other factors that affect the page speed.
- Larger size of an image.
- High quality image.
- Too many images on single page.
- Setting up browser caching time for static images.
- Serving images from cookiless and static server.
- Lazy loading images by showing only when visitor scrolled to that position on the page.
- Format of the image like PNG, JPEG, WebP, etc.
- Image hotlinking.
Why Should You Use Image Optimization Plugins?
WordPress by default does not offer any mechanism to optimize the uploaded images. You have the following options to optimize the images in WordPress:
- Use tools like Photoshop to save in a compressed web format.
- Optimizing with online tools.
- Use plugin on WordPress installation.
The first two options though easy to use is time consuming for large number of images. Also you should use the offline solutions to optimize the images before uploading on your site. This is kind of impossible for a normal user who publishes regularly. Therefore the easiest way is to use ready-made plugins meant for this purpose.
In addition, the plugins include most demanding features by Google like lazy loading and serving images in latest format like WebP. With image compression plugins, you can also optimize the existing images on your Media Library to reduce their sizes without degrading their quality significantly.
Warning Before You Use Plugins
Remember the below points before you install the plugin on your live site:
- Image compression plugins are highly server intensive due to the nature. When you may need to compress hundreds of images, ensure you have sufficient server capacity to do so. Otherwise, your hosting company may block or terminate your account for consuming higher server resources.
- Most of the free plugins do not retain the original image. This means, in case of problems, you will loose the original image.
- Remember to test the plugin features in testing server, especially if you are choosing lossy compression and different format. Otherwise, you may loose the original image without the possibility of reverting back.
- If you are running a photography site or the image EXIF data is very much important for you, then try offline solutions instead of using plugins. You should trade off site speed for the high quality / large size images.
Most importantly, some hosting companies like SiteGround offers dedicated plugins or server settings for optimizing images. In this case, you do not another plugin doing the same optimization.
Top 6 Image Optimization Plugins for WordPress
Here are some of the popular image optimization and compression plugins that you can try.
1. WP Smush
WP Smush is a partially free image optimization plugin. The premium version comes with added features as a monthly subscription.
- Just like other optimization plugins, you can automatically compress images when uploading on the site.
- You can check the results of optimization for each image or in total.
- For the free version of WP Smush, you can bulk optimize only up to 50 image files at a time. You can also go to the Media Library and individually optimize any image. You can do this by click on the Smush button showing against the image.
- The plugin also offers a lazy loading feature to improve the site speed in Google PageSpeed Insights tool.
- WP Smush uses lossless optimization method to maintain quality by default. The premium version offers lossy optimization method to further reduce file size with very slight degradation in quality. With lossy optimization, you may reduce the file size by up to 50 percent, while ensuring that images still appear attractive.
Check out our detailed review of WP Smush more details.
2. EWWW Image Optimizer
EWWW Image Optimizer immediately optimizes your GIF, PNG and JPG files in the media library. This is very convenient if you already have hundreds of images in your site that eats up server storage space and slow down performance. The optimization process takes place in the server, so it will be completed more quickly. It takes just a few seconds to optimize any image file that’s smaller than 1MB in size. However, beginners may run into difficulties when installing and configuring EWWW Image Optimizer. For example, the plugin may create database tables to store data. These tables will not be deleted even you delete the plugin. Therefore, read the plugin documentation properly and understand how it works.
3. ShortPixel Image Optimizer
ShortPixel Image Optimizer is known for its appealing user interface. After you enable the plugin, it will automatically optimize all GIF, PNG and JPG files in the media library. You can do bulk optimization or individually compress images in the media library. By default, ShortPixel Image Optimizer uses lossless compression method, but you can choose the lossy compression as well, to reduce file size more aggressively. You can choose to preserve EXIF data from your image files or remove it completely. You can perform backup of all images in your media library. The free version of the plugin allows you to compress up to 100 images per month and the paid version compresses more images.
4. TinyPNG Compress JPG & PNG Images
Compress JPG & PNG Images by TinyPNG offers a more drastic way of optimizing your media library. It offers only lossy compression technique to significantly reduce file sizes, while largely preserving the quality. The configuration page of the plugins allows you to do many things, such as defining the maximum resolution. You can also choose image pre-sets, such as thumbnail, small, medium and large. Although this plugin has a number of limitations, it still performs quite well in doing its task.
The free version allows you to optimize approximately 100 images per month.
Imsanity is a completely free plugin with more than 300K active installations. The plugins will automatically resize the larger images to fit into browser display. You can also bulk compress the images or selectively compress specific images. It allows you to adjust the quality, height and width of optimized images. One additional function not available in many of the plugin is that Imsanity plugin will also convert BMP to JPG to resize the images.
6. Resize Image After Upload
Resize Image After Upload is a shorter plugin version of the ShortPixel team. Generally, when you upload bigger images on your website they will shrink visually. However, the image is still bigger without making it smaller in terms of resolution and file size. This will impact the site speed as the original images are still with larger size. Therefore, it will be better to use images with actual size that matches your layout. The solution is to fix the maximum height and width of images to reduce the file size. This plugin exactly does this by resizing larger PNG, GIF and JPEG images. You can also compress already uploaded images and convert PNG to JPEG to reduce the size.
Nowadays, site speed is important for SEO and image optimization and compression is a key factor. Each image optimization plugin has specific features. Therefore, you need to read the document, test and choose the plugin suitable for your need.