How to Optimize WordPress Images for Optimal Performance
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How to Optimize WordPress Images for Optimal Performance

Maintaining a seamless customer experience is imperative for businesses in the era of instant gratification. Websites need to load fast. Studies indicate that when a website takes longer than anticipated to pack, potential customers are less inclined to complete a purchase. More often than not, the primary contributors to a sluggish website are oversized, inadequately optimized images. Let’s proceed to learn how to optimize WordPress images for performance, SEO, and page speed.

Although image quality plays a crucial role in web design, image optimization is the key to creating a graphically rich website. Optimizing images can result in significant benefits, including faster site load times, improved user experience, and increased visibility in Google Images.

This tutorial will show you how to optimize your images for improved web performance.

What is Image Optimization?

When optimizing images for the web, we aim to deliver images in the most compact file size achievable without compromising the overall quality.

Although the procedure may sound intricate, it’s straightforward. If you’re running a WordPress website, there are several plugins to choose from and the option of using a web app. You may be surprised to learn that most images can be reduced in size by more than 50% without any discernible compromise in image quality.

In the background, a compression algorithm is at work.

The two most popular compression types are “Lossless” and “Lossy”.

Lossy image compression involves selectively discarding data from your image file to decrease its size. Lossy compression algorithms can significantly reduce file sizes, but this often comes with a trade-off – a degradation in image quality. It’s good practice to keep a copy of the original image.

In contrast to lossy compression, lossless image compression maintains image quality as it doesn’t diminish the visual integrity of the photo. This is achieved by removing surplus, non-essential data that may have been automatically added by the device used to capture the image. However, the trade-off is that the reduction in image file size is less substantial than with lossy compression.

Related Reading: How to optimize WordPress Content for SEO

What are the Benefits of Image Optimization?

The three most important takeaways for image optimization are:

  1. Faster web load times
  2. Improved search performance
  3. Less storage and bandwidth usage

Faster Load Times

Do you know that, on average, 21 image requests are made per page load? One of the most straightforward steps to decrease load time is to reduce image size; ironically, many web designers don’t. Reducing image weight will make your website load faster and create a better browsing experience for visitors. If you want to dive deeper into statistics of page loading, visit this article by HubSpot.

Improved Search Performance

It’s well known that Google considers page speed in its ranking algorithm. Google PageSpeed Insights tools provide plenty of tips on optimizing web pages (images are among the most important). An additional but often overlooked benefit of resizing and naming your images is better Google image search results performance. This can be an essential source of traffic for e-commerce websites.

Less Storage & Bandwidth Usage

Another benefit of resizing and compressing images is that lighter images use less server space and bandwidth, speeding up your backup runs. In other words, it can help you save on your next hosting bill.

How to Optimize Images?

Follow this 3-step process to get the most out of your image optimization efforts.

Choose the Right File Format

When optimizing website images, most owners focus on three key file formats: JPEG, PNG, GIF, and WebP. Choosing the correct format is crucial for effective image optimization.

Use JPEGs and WebPs for photos with rich colors.

If it’s your first time hearing about WebPs, look at this detailed article. Use PNGs for uncomplicated and transparent images like a logo. For animated pictures, you can also use WebPs. GIFs are also an option but have a limit of 256 colors.

If you’re unfamiliar with the distinctions among file types, it’s worth noting that the PNG image format is uncompressed, resulting in higher image quality. However, the trade-off is larger file sizes.

Conversely, JPEG and WebP are compressed file formats that sacrifice image quality (lossy compression) to achieve significantly smaller file sizes. The amount is negligible for most people, but you may want your visual quality at maximum for visible sites like photography or graphic design portfolios.

Resize & Compress

Typically, when importing a photo from your phone or camera, it comes with a high resolution and big dimensions in pixel width and height. While such high-quality images are suitable for print, their large sizes can be impractical for website usage. Resizing image dimensions to web-friendly dimensions can significantly decrease image file size.

Once you have resized your image to a suitable width and height, you can further optimize it by compressing it. As explained in the first part of this article, lossy compression is the most popular compression method. Most quality reduction is not visible to the naked eye.

However, you should test and adjust your settings in your favorite optimization tool.

File Naming

Out of our three optimization tips, this is by far the easiest.

Name your image files with relevant keywords, and remember your alt attributes!

While uploading images with their default assigned names is convenient, you must catch up on search engine traffic. Search engines analyze the text on your webpage and consider the names of your image files when indexing image search results.

Alt attributes serve as text alternatives for images when browsers encounter difficulty rendering them. These attributes are essential for web accessibility.

Best 6 WordPress Image Optimization Plugins

On a positive note, there are several excellent optimization tools available. Listed below are our favorite WordPress plugins and a web-based CMS-independent tool.

TinyPNG

TinyPNG

TinyPNG is a WordPress plugin designed to optimize images on your website effortlessly. The free version allows for the optimization of around 100 images monthly. The plugin is multisite compatible, and users can set the API key for all sites in the wp-config.php file. Additionally, TinyPNG seamlessly integrates with WooCommerce—Pro packages with unlimited compression starting at $39 monthly and supports file compression up to 150MB.

EWWW

EWWW

EWWW is a powerful WordPress plugin offering seamless image optimization for existing and new uploads. It provides unlimited file size support and compression for JPG, PNG, and PDF files, ensuring optimal quality. With secure SSL encryption and free image backups, EWWW stands out as one of the best plugins in the WordPress ecosystem. The company offers monthly subscription packages starting at $7.

ShortPixel

ShortPixel

ShortPixel Image Optimizer is a lightweight WordPress plugin that swiftly resolves image-related issues on your website. Optimizing images and PDF documents with just a click can help you enhance your site’s SEO ranking and decrease load times. The plugin supports next-gen image formats seamlessly. Operating with a user-friendly approach, it automatically sends uploaded images to ShortPixel’s optimization cloud, which undergoes efficient compression and conversion, resulting in faster-loading pages and improved Core Web Vitals. The plugin offers a free plan with up to 100 credits per month, with more extensive plans available starting from $3.99 per month.

Imagify

How to optimize WordPress images?

Imagify WordPress image optimization plugin ensures a quick and effortless boost to your website’s image performance. A user-friendly interface allows you to compress all your images in just one click, striking a balance between performance and quality through its Smart Compression feature. Seamlessly convert images to WebP format, resize them, and conveniently restore images to their original versions when necessary. Imagify empowers you to optimize your WordPress images in a few clicks, enhancing speed and visual appeal. The plugin offers a free plan with 20MB per month, with their next plan starting at $5.99.

Optimole

Optimole

Optimole is an all-in-one WordPress plugin for effortless image optimization. It quickly cleans up heavy images and improves website speed. Optimole optimizes images in real-time using a cloud-based system, ensuring quality across various devices. Notable features include machine learning-powered compression, support for Retina and WebP images, and AVIF format compatibility. The plugin serves images from a global CDN, supports page builders like Elementor, and offers lazy loading without jQuery, with a free version and paid plans starting at €22.99 monthly. Optimole is an ideal, set-and-forget solution for WordPress’s efficient image optimization.

Smush Pro

optimize WordPress images as a Beginner

Smush is brought to you by the WPMU DEV team, a well-established company in the WordPress space. Today, Smush is the go-to image optimizer for over 1 million users worldwide. This plugin allows users to seamlessly optimize, compress, resize, and convert images to WebP format, enhancing website performance without compromising visual quality. With features like lazy loading, Smush caters to diverse image optimization needs, making it a reliable choice for web professionals. Smush Pro packages start as low as $3 per month.

Resize.com

Resize.com

Tip! There are CMS-independent online image optimization tools. If you don’t want to install a plugin, use an app like Resize.com. Resize.com is an online image resizer and optimizer. It allows you to resize your images by pixel and percentage for social media. It also supports image compression and file conversion to and from JPG, PNG, PDF, and WEBP. The UI is clean and intuitive. Its accessibility and handy features make it a great go-to optimization tool.

Summary

Optimize WordPress Images

The key takeaway from this article is that smaller image files result in faster loading times, which is essential for providing a seamless and enjoyable user experience.

Additionally, reduced file sizes contribute to lower bandwidth consumption, making websites more accessible across various devices and network conditions.

Prioritizing image optimization and compression is critical to achieving optimal website performance, improving overall user satisfaction, and positively impacting factors such as SEO and user engagement.

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