Optimizing images is one of the main rules used for PageSpeed Insights by Google during a performance test. In this process, the tool detects images on the page that can be optimized without significantly affecting the visual quality.
Reducing the image to its minimum size decreases the time a user must wait until the loading of a page. Correct optimization of images can save many bytes of data, saving time for users on slow connections, and is one of the solutions to make a WordPress website faster.
The Basic form of Optimizing images
The basic procedure for the image optimization consists of the following:
- Cut unnecessary spaces to reduce the color depth to the lowest acceptable level;
- Remove comments on the image;
- Save the image in an appropriate format.
Basic image optimization can be performed through image programs like GIMP, Photoshop, and others.
An advanced form of Optimizing images
The advanced image optimization consists of a higher compression without diminishing the quality of JPEG and PNG files. For this, there are several tools available that perform this compression. The most known and used to leave sites in WordPress faster is TinyPNG!, but there are also others like OptiPNG and EWWW.
Use appropriate image formats.
- The PageSpeed Insights gives us some high-level recommendations for selecting the image size
- PNGs are almost always higher than GIFs, although some older versions of browsers only provide partial support for PNGs.
- Use GIFs for very short or easy graphics (e.g., less than 10 x 10 pixels or less formed by a palette of three colors) and animation images;
- Use JPGs for all images with photographic style;
Do not use BMP or TIFF.
The Consequences of Unoptimized Images
Unoptimized images can have a detrimental impact on your WordPress website in several ways:
- Slow Loading Speed: Large image files slow down page loading times, leading to a poor user experience and potentially higher bounce rates.
- Increased Bandwidth Usage: Large images consume more bandwidth, leading to higher hosting costs, particularly if your hosting plan has limited data transfer.
- Search Engine Ranking: Google considers website speed as a ranking factor. Slower websites may rank lower in search results, affecting your visibility and organic traffic.
Now that we’ve highlighted the importance of image optimization, let’s explore strategies to address these issues and enhance your WordPress site’s performance.
Image compression decreases the file size of an image without harshly affecting its visual quality. Lossless and lossy compression are the two options available.
- Lossless Compression: This method reduces file size without loss of quality. It’s ideal for images that require high fidelity, such as product photos or infographics.
- Lossy Compression: Lossy compression sacrifices some image quality to achieve greater file size reduction. It’s suitable for images where slight quality loss is acceptable, such as blog post illustrations.
For optimization, selecting the appropriate picture format is essential:
- JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group): Ideal for photographs and images with complex colors. It supports high compression ratios while maintaining decent quality.
- PNG (Portable Network Graphics): Best for images with transparency or simple graphics. It offers lossless compression but may result in larger file sizes than JPEG.
- WebP: A modern, highly efficient format developed by Google. WebP files are smaller than both JPEG and PNG while maintaining good quality. However, older browsers may not support it.
Example of Optimizing Images for a Faster WordPress Website
Imagine you’re running a travel blog, and you want to publish a post showcasing breathtaking landscapes from your recent adventures. You’ve captured high-resolution images with your camera, but they’re too large for web use. Here’s how you can optimize them:
- Image Compression: Reduce the file size while keeping image quality by using a program like Smush.
- Image Format: Convert images to WebP format for maximum compression without sacrificing quality.
- Image Dimensions: Resize images to fit your blog’s content width, typically around 1200 pixels wide.
- Lazy Loading: Enable lazy loading in your WordPress theme settings to ensure images load only as users scroll down the page.
- CDN: Implement a CDN to serve images quickly to users around the world.
By following these steps, you’ll have visually stunning images on your travel blog without compromising loading speed.
Image Optimization Plugins
There exists a variety of image optimization plugins designed for WordPress, with some of the most widely used ones being:
- EWWW Image Optimizer: EWWW Image Optimizer is a robust and versatile plugin equipped with a comprehensive array of features. It encompasses both lossless and lossy compression, image resizing capabilities, and the ability to convert images to the WebP format.
- ShortPixel Image Optimizer: ShortPixel Image Optimizer enjoys popularity for its exceptional compression quality and user-friendly interface. It provides high-quality compression while ensuring an effortless user experience.
- WP-Optimize: WP-Optimize stands as an all-in-one optimization plugin, encompassing an image optimization module among its suite of functionalities. This plugin offers a holistic approach to optimizing your WordPress website.
- Optimole: Optimole operates as a cloud-based image optimization service, making use of automatic image optimization techniques. Additionally, it features lazy loading and Content Delivery Network (CDN) delivery for enhanced performance.
- WP Smush: WP Smush is a free plugin that offers ease of use alongside commendable compression results. It serves as a user-friendly option for those seeking to optimize images without the need for complex configurations.
Optimizing images for a faster WordPress website is not just a technical endeavor but also an essential step toward providing a seamless user experience and improving your site’s search engine rankings. By employing image compression, choosing the right formats, resizing images appropriately, and utilizing techniques like lazy loading and CDNs, you can significantly enhance your site’s performance.
Remember, a faster website not only pleases your visitors but also positively impacts your online presence and, ultimately, your bottom line.
FAQs on Optimizing Images
Are there any free image optimization tools for WordPress?
Yes, there are free image optimization plugins available for WordPress, such as Smush and ShortPixel. There are both free and paid versions of these plugins, allowing you to get started with image optimization without additional costs.
What is lazy loading, and how does it work?
When using the lazy loading strategy, off-screen graphics wait to load until the user scrolls down the page. By only loading pictures when they are visible to the user, it improves performance and cuts down on initial page load times.
Can I optimize images retroactively on an existing WordPress website?
Yes, you can optimize images on an existing WordPress website. Many image optimization plugins offer bulk optimization features that allow you to compress and resize existing images to improve website performance.