Images belong to the biggest parts of a web page. The bigger the image, the longer it takes to load. At worst, you can see the image build up line by line! And a fast loading page is important. For your visitors, but also for the search engines.
The right size
Before you use an image on a page, you have to determine the size you’re going to use. You don’t want a 4000×3000 pixel image being stuffed in a 400×300 pixel space. Always adjust the size of the image to the amount of space it will have on your website. Just be sure that the image is big enough when you want it to open in lightbox.
Compress the image
After you’ve adjusted the image to the right size, you can take the next step: optimizing the image by compressing it. Compressing an image means that all of the unwanted information will be stripped from the image. There are a few methods to do so. Some compress lossless, some compress lossy. In most cases, the quality will be sufficient for the website. Sometimes images are compressed to maybe 10 percent of their original size. Imagine what a difference that makes in load time!
You can find several compressing tools online. You upload the image and download the optimized image. I like tinypng.com. You can also use a plugin that does the job for you.
For optimizing the images on this website I use the plugin WP Smush. With this plugin, all the images I upload are optimized automatically. This is done by sending the image to the WPMUDEV servers, optimize it and send it back to my web server. This is a very fast process and it even shows exactly how much smaller the image has become. Without noticeable loss of quality!
What WP-Smush won’t do, is resize the image to the size you want. You can set a standard maximum size to which all bigger images can be scaled, but that is it. You still have to resize an image to the size that’s needed.
WP-Smush is a much-used plugin. At this moment, 400.000 active installs all over the world!
The free version of WP-Smush has four options:
- Optimize automatically at uploading images to the media library;
- Whether or not to keep the EXIF-information;
- Setting the maximum height and width. Images that are too big, will automatically be resized to the maximum. After that, they will be optimized;
- Bulk smushing the media library.
WP Smush not only optimizes the images you upload. If you have images that were uploaded before you installed WP-Smush, you can optimize them also from the media library. WP-Smush checks every image in the library and optimizes all images that weren’t optimized!
The free version of WP-Smush has a few limitations. The size of the images being optimized can be 1mb max. The paid for PRO version has a limit of 32mb per image, can optimize the images further and some other features.