Optimise images? Optimising graphics and images for your WordPress website is a simple and important step to improve your loading time. It is all the more surprising how many WordPress users upload their original images without optimization measures. To make sure you don't make the same mistake, today I'll show you six popular WordPress plugins that take care of compressing your images completely.
As a website owner, you should always keep an eye on the loading time of your WordPress website. After all, a faster loading time has a positive effect on the user experience (UX) of your potential customers, your search engine ranking and ideally your conversions.
Why image optimization in WordPress?
Using caching plugins (or server-side caching), compressing data with gzip or Brotli, removing unnecessary plugins, switching to HTTPS and switching to a faster are popular steps to improve the load time of your WordPress website. Brotli, removing unnecessary plugins, switching to HTTPS and switching to a faster hostare popular steps to improve the load time of your WordPress website. Especially for WooCommerce shops that need many product images, other steps are often taken first to improve the loading time.
One important step that's often overlooked in loading time optimization is image optimization. What many people don't know is that as soon as you upload an image to your media library, WordPress automatically creates three additional formats: a large (post image), a medium and a small format (thumbnail).
So when you think you've uploaded just one image, it's actually four new files, including meta information, that the server has to process. There are even themes that automatically generate 10 or more image sizes.
Resizing images is only the first step
One first optimization step is to compress your original images in e.g. Photoshop before you upload them. But to get the best possible results in terms of loading time, you need to compress all the images on your site, including image files generated automatically by WordPress.
When compressing images, a distinction is made between lossy and lossless compression. The terms are pretty much self explanatory:
With lossless compression, the difference in quality between the image before and after compression is virtually unnoticeable. Often, mainly superfluous meta information of the image file is removed in order to save unnecessary kilobytes. With lossy compression, the image quality may suffer due to a reduction in colour and resolution. On the other hand, lossy compression can save considerably more file size.
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5 WordPress image optimization plugins
By reducing the size of your original images before uploading them to your WordPress website, you're already ahead of many site operators. Plugins are the best way to retroactively optimize your existing media library and automate the compression of new images. I'd like to show you five popular plugins today to help you optimize your images.
Optimise WordPress images with Smush
Active installations: over 1 million
Rating: 4.8 stars (5,500 reviews)
Supported formats: JPG, PNG, GIF (Pro: conversion to WebP)
Free: Image size max. 5 MB, bulk compressions of max. 50 images
Compression: lossless (Free) and lossy (Pro)
As the over one million installations and over 5,500 ratings show, Smush by WPMU DEV is one of the most popular WordPress plugins for image optimization. Smush is available in a free version and a paid Pro version. Meanwhile, there is even the option to use Smush Pro as a separate tool (without WPMU DEV membership) for $60 per year.
What does the free version of Smush offer?
As with most plugins, the free version of Smush has some limitations. For example, you can only compress images up to 5 MB in size in the free version. Smush Pro has no such image size limits and, of course, offers many pro features like unlimited bulk optimization, CDN, lazy loading and WebP support. In addition, image optimization runs up to 200 percent faster in the Pro version according to WPMU DEV.
Another point to consider with the free version is that you can only compress losslessly. The highest compression level "Super Smush", which uses a lossy algorithm, is only available in the Pro version.
Optimise images with EWWW Image Optimizer
Active installations: over 800,000
Rating: 4.7 stars (1000 reviews)
Supported formats: JPG, PNG, GIF, PDF, WebP
Free: only on own server (without API)
Compression: lossless (Free) and lossy (Pro) possible
What does the Free Version of the EWWW IO offer?
Unlike the other plugins in this list, image compression in the free version of EWWW Image Optimizer takes place on your server. This makes EWWW IO especially attractive for many users from a privacy point of view. However, for plugin to work, you need the exec() function, which many host do not release for security reasons. By the way, this also applies to Raidboxes.
In this article, EWWW IO developersexplains what exec and pluginare all about. If the exec function is not enabled for security reasons at your host(e.g. at Raidboxes), you can use the paid cloud-based plansof the plugin.
Optimise WordPress images with Imagify
Active installations: over 400,000
Rating: 4.5 (955 reviews)
Supported formats: JPG, PNG, PDF, Gif, WebP
Free: Image size max. 2 MB, uploads max. 20 MB per month, conversion to WebP
Compression: lossy and lossless possible
What does the free version of Imagify offer?
Imagify is a plugin from WP Media, the company behind the well-known plugin "WP Rocket". In the free version ("Starter") you can compress up to 20 MB per month, which according to Imagify equals circa 200 images. The paid versions plans are "Growth" for $4.99 per month and 500 MB limit (about 5,000 images) and "Infinite" for $9.99 without limit.
Imagify offers three different compression levels:
- Normal: This is a lossless compression. The visible quality of the image is therefore not changed.
- Aggressive: This level is lossy, but with only a slight loss of image quality. According to Imagify, this loss is hardly noticeable in most cases.
- Ultra: This is the strongest compression level of the plug-in, which accordingly entails quality losses, but saves the most space.
Optimise WordPress images with ShortPixel
Active installations: over 300,000
Rating: 4.6 stars (597 reviews)
Supported formats: JPG, PNG, GIF, PDF, WebP
Free: 100 images per month
Compression: lossy, "glossy" and lossless
What does the free version of ShortPixel offer?
The free version of ShortPixel allows you to compress 100 images per month. Images or files the plugin is unable to compress by more than five percent will not be deducted from your quota. Another plus is that even in the free version, lossy compression is possible and there's no limit on the size of the uploaded images.
For those who want to optimize more than 100 images per month, Shortpixel offers seven plans with different image quotas: from 5,000 images for $3.99 per month to 16 million images for $1,000 per month. The three largest plans also include CDN traffic at various limits.
Optimise with Compress JPEG & PNG Images
Active installations: over 200,000
Rating: 4.4 stars (139 reviews)
Supported formats: JPEG, PNG, APNG (animated PNG)
Free: 500 images per month
What does the free version of Compress JPEG & PNG Images offer?
Compress JPEG & PNG Images is the official plugin for the well-known online compression tools TinyPNG and TinyJPG. With TinyPNG WordPress plugin you can compress 500 images per month for free. As soon as the limit is reached, you will be asked to upgrade and provide your payment details. There are no traditional subscriptions, no file size limits and you only pay for the number of images that are actually compressed. If you are in the upper range of the limits, a subscription model from another provider with unlimited optimizations may be the cheaper option.
Image optimization with Optimus
Active installations: over 60,000
Rating: 4.2 stars (68 reviews)
Supported formats: JPEG, PNG (WebP from paid version Optimus HQ)
Free: Image size max. 100 KB
Compression: lossless for PNGs and "slightly lossy" for JPEGs.
What does the free version of Optimus offer?
Optimus is an image optimization plug-in from KeyCDN. You can use plugin in three different tariffs: Optimus (Free), Optimus HQ (Premium) and Optimus HQ PRO (Premium). An important limitation of the free version is the maximum file size of 100 KB. In the Premium tariffs, the size limit is 10 MB. A secure connection to the server via HTTPS, WebP support and the use of the API is only possible from plan Optimus HQ onwards. From a data protection point of view, however, Optimus has a decisive advantage - the data is processed on servers in Germany and deleted immediately after the images have been optimised.
The next step: Optimize images for SEO
Reducing the size of your images is an important lever for performance optimization. But what about your image optimization for SEO? Ronny Schneider shows you how to get the most out of image optimization in this article.
Conclusion: Image optimization with plugins saves time
And this even doubles: on the one hand, the manual optimization effort for you and your customers is eliminated, and on the other hand, you improve the loading time of your website through automated image compression. In times when every millisecond counts when it comes to website speed, image optimization is a measure that you should make the most of.
It is difficult to give a general answer as to which plugin is the best solution for you. Ultimately, it depends on how many of your images need to be optimised afterwards and how many new ones are added. If you only upload a few images per month to the WordPress media library and also include PDF files, ShortPixel is a good choice. If you don't want to rely on external servers to optimise your images and your host allows it, EWWW IO is a good choice. For companies that regularly produce content and upload many images, WP Smush PRO may be worthwhile, together with the other features of WPMU DEV.
The motto for maximum optimization is: "double is better"
If you want to spend as little time as possible optimizing your images, the paid plugin versions are probably the better choice. This way you don't have to constantly worry about exhausted megabytes or image quotas and the optimization runs automatically in the background.
If you can spend a little more time and want to get the most out of compression, you should even "double optimize". That's an approach we follow as best we can at Raidboxes\. Even before we upload an image to the media library, we resize it to the required size and export it at the lowest possible resolution. In Photoshop, for example, there is an option to save images specifically for web use. You can find the command for this under "File" and "Save for Web". Additionally, we use Shortpixel in Compression Type "Glossy", which automatically compresses every image uploaded to WordPress and removes unnecessary meta information.
I hope this guide features a plugin to fit your needs. If you have another recommendation for image optimization in WordPress, I'd be happy to hear from you in the comments.