Images make posts and pages interesting to read. Despite being crucial element for every website, images may soon become a burden for your website, if not taken care of.
Of men and machines, nobody likes slow websites. Image heavy sites are visually arresting, aesthetic and appealing. However, bandwidth hog unoptimized images make websites load slowly – specially, WordPress websites are affected the most. Sluggish WordPress websites affect SEO (Search Engine Optimization), increase the bounce rate (visitors quit right after the first slow page they tried to load on browser), and keep the visitors away.
WordPress Image Compression & Optimization
There could be hundreds of reasons why a WordPress website is slow. May be a bloated theme is being used. Perhaps, you’re not using a CDN, and global users from distant corners of the earth are experiencing more latency than nearer users. May be, you site isn’t secure and prone to continuous attacks that keep your website busy and disdain legitimate visitors. Your site might be infected by malware. Your site’s static assets aren’t, perhaps, minified and compressed. The reasons keep going. Among all the reasons, heavy images affect a site the most.
This article series WordPress Image Compression & Optimization will provide you with everything you wanted to know about WordPress image optimization tips, tricks, hacks, software, tools and plugins. You will learn how to optimize all your image assets manually or automatically.
Improving the speed of your WordPress website is the ultimate results of many efforts – image optimization is just one. There are many other ways to boost the performance of a slow WordPress website. Many of such ways work in orchestration – complementing each other.
You’ll learn everything you deserved about WordPress Compression & Optimization, how to compress and optimize images for WordPress, WordPress Image Optimizer plugins, how to use WordPress Image Compression Plugins, WordPress Image Compression and Optimizer Plugin Comparison and verdicts. You will learn how to preserve quality while reduce sizes to the last bit possible. You’ll know in depth about many online and desktop image optimizer software – and numerous more topics.
The Importance of Image Optimization
Images too large in size or too many images affect your WordPress site. When your pages are loaded into the user’s browser, these images along with many other CSS and JS files are embedded or included inside HTML. This increases the resource download time, resulting in delayed or prolonged render time.
Compress your image files. Let your site be lightweight again. Quick fix! In addition to compressing, you need to optimize images. Image Optimization is a broader term which we will cover in detail in the present series of articles. Lazy loading is one such image optimization technique that’s immensely popular and widely used. Lazy loading help load pages first without all the images being loaded aforehand. Instead, it loads the images incrementally and puts in proper places, when the user keeps paginating or scrolling your pages. Compressing and optimizing image assets are an integral part of WordPress site administration for speed, SEO ranking and long-term web traffic growth. Images can be compressed and optimized manually or automatically. Image optimizer plugins lets you do all the Compression & Optimization tasks in autopilot mode. While this is good for too many images to handle, the manual Compression & Optimization is extremely handy as it helps you understand how it works.
There are dozens of dozens of WordPress Image Optimizer Plugins that automates the process of image optimization and compression for you. These plugins save you time and money; also, delivering great results.
Scaling images is one of the most effective ways of optimizing images for the web. Scaled images ensure that only necessary number of bytes are stored in the image file so that the image can be displayed on device screens without losing visual color tones.
If the resolution of a display device is 720 X 480 pixels, displaying a 4000 X 3000 pixels on the device without scaling is pure waste of data bandwidth during transmission/reception and unnecessary waste of CPU cycles on target devices. More or less, almost every website uses such unscaled images for faster development of the site and optimization remains ever a far cry. This keeps hurting, hurting and hurting websites years after years after years.
Besides the resolution scaling, the sizes of the image media files are equally important. A well optimized file size should, most of time, be less than 100KB. Only high resolution image files may exceed that limit, however, care must be taken if the size well exceeds over 256KB. Images over 512KB are alarming and needs immediate optimization.
Last, yet not the least, important thing of image optimization is Image file format. We’ll explain more on it later. Suffice it will be for now that, JPG/JPEG and PNG file formats are web optimized image formats. Image file formats and DPI (Dots per Inches) are interrelated. Usually, web optimized formats preserve 72 DPI which is web standard.
Why You Should Optimize Images for WordPress
Images talk visually to your visitors on your website. Images are visually appealing. Posts, pages and articles are incomplete, if not crippled, without imagery. Images help long pieces of contents break into chunks, giving visual stoppages to readers. Images keep visitors engaged. They are more memorable than text. Scientists say that visual cortex in our brains can process images 60,000 times faster than textual contexts. Images can turn mundane looking contents into highly attractive piece of information. In complementary to your contents, they can improve comprehension for visitors and exemplify your message.
Images are the largest piles of assets that are loaded with web pages. Unfortunately, this makes loading time suffer unless you take necessary actions on or beforehand. Compressing images and optimizing images are necessary to combat with slow blow loading times. Numerous researches on Online Browsing Behavior analysis shows that if a page is not loaded within 2 mere seconds (that 2000 ms), visitors lose interest in the context, abandon your site and switch over to another site. Images and media files consume 60%-80% of bandwidth. Average size of pages increases year over year.
A Recent data from Google show that 79% of pages were over 1MB, 53% were over 2MB and 23% over 4MB. Often times, you probably have visited such websites, having image heavy pages in forms of high-resolution background pictures, widgets and sliders.
Another recent study by Fiscal Times revealed that, “The average web page is now 2.1MB in size, compared to 1.5MB two years ago.” Fiscal Times further reported that, on average, images comprise 1.3 MB of the total 2.1 MB web page.
It’s arguably the most important to optimize images on your site to meet the visitors’ need for speed.
Compressing and optimizing images has immediate surprising benefits.
- You’ll amaze your visitors with faster load time.
- Improved Search Engine rankings for free in Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other Search Engines.
- Bounce rate declines for faster sites.
- Encourages the visitors to keep coming back.
- Search engines and crawlers will get pages soon, thus the total busy-time on web server will reduce.
- Backup and restore tasks on complete website contents, scripts and assets will happen faster.
- You save money by reducing costs associated with bandwidth.
- Also, cuts the hosting costs because of less storage on your servers.
- Higher scores in Google PageSpeed, YSlow, GTmetrix and others.
- More visitors over time.
- Smaller numbers on both your and your visitors’ mobile data plan.
Image optimization is a three faceted job at its core – optimizing the number of bytes that represent an image; optimizing the total number of pixels that occupy on visitors’ screen device; and reduce the load impact on web pages without letting the visitors notice.
How to Optimize Images with WordPress Built-in Options
WordPress comes batteries-included for image Compression & Optimization. You can utilize Media Editor and Media Settings to compress and optimize images for WordPress website.
To work with built-in image editing options of WordPress, go to your Media Library in WordPress Administration Dashboard and select an image or upload some new images.
The interface options provides you means to edit the dimension of images – something ordinary and similar with any image editing software. However, there’s a catch. Images are cloned and optimized for multiple sizes and dimensions keeping the aspect ratio intact. Aspect ratios keep an image visually same informative no matter you do miniature or magnify it. Once you’re happy with the new size, hit the Scale button and you’re all done.
You can create default image sizes of different dimensions for your image media files. Click the Media under the Settings tab. You can update dimensions to a preferred height and weight that best matches yours website layout and the resolution of target devices.
The built-in WordPress image optimization options are pretty limited. However, there are hundreds of WordPress Image Optimizer Plugins to circumvent these limitations.
Using Featured Images with WordPress
Featured images are relatively large images that are displayed atop in “Hero Section” of a piece of content like post and page. Featured images aren’t inserted into the content in WordPress, rather, a physical path the actual file is used. Themes show the featured image in the appropriate Hero Section”.
Featured images needs special considerations. Featured images are usually wider ranging from 320 to 2048 or greater pixels. You can set custom size for featured images for the whole site or for a specific page or post. Once you’ve determined the size of the featured images, that size will stay fixed for all future featured images. You should select the size considering your theme and target audiences’ display devices.
WordPress Image Optimizer Plugins
Virtually, there are more than enough WordPress Image Optimizer Plugins. If one plugin doesn’t suite or meet your needs, you can switch over another or yet another one. These plugins usually perform daunting tasks of compressing and optimizing hundreds of thousands of images behind the scene, and help load pages faster with many applied techniques like caching and lazy loading.
This series of articles on WordPress Image Compression & Optimization will guide you through the most popular WordPress Image Optimizer Plugins. Some of the plugins aim to be all-in-one image optimizer solution while others target to fulfill specific tasks better than the contenders. Each plugin has its own strengths and weaknesses. You will become familiar to their comparative features, interface and settings, pricing, pros and cons and verdicts.
Thoughts on these WordPress image optimizer plugins
The best and the most effective ways to improve your WordPress website’s loading time is compressing, optimizing, resizing, scaling, caching and lazy loading images.
In addition to media file manipulation to optimize size and speed, there are other means of optimization for SEO Ranking, more traffic and growth hacking. This series of articles will guide the though them all.
APPENDIX I – Articles of the Series on “WordPress Image Compression & Optimization”
Chapter 1: WordPress Image Compression & Optimization