Looking for something to increase your page speed and boost your SEO score? Image optimization can help you with that and optimal utilization of your resources like high-resolution images. Knowing that Google considers your page speed to show results, image optimization becomes a primary task in SEO.
Since every visitor to your site wants a good user experience. Apart from creating compelling content, page speed matters a lot. This is clearly demonstrated by this image below:
There are a lot of factors which can impact your loading times, and optimizing images with high resolution is one of them. Imagine the frustration of what it’s like to navigate through a website full of pictures that take forever to load. It becomes even more distressing if you’ve been using the internet long enough to remember when speeds weren’t quite so snappy. All these factors demand optimization and compression of web images for a better User Experience.
It is estimated that the number of smartphone users will grow to about 2.5 billion in 2019. With this ever-increasing number of smartphone users, to sustain your business in this digital world, image compression and optimization should be one of your primary tasks.
To make your task easier, fun and fast, here is the list of some awesome image optimization plugins which will make your life easier with this hectic task. With that in mind, let’s take a look at six WordPress image optimization plugins that can ensure your site is quick to load!
1. EWWW Image Optimizer
First, you need to install and set up EWWW Image Optimizer, one of the best tools for image optimization. It supports a range of image files like JPG, PNG, or GIF and automatically optimizes as you upload them. In case you already have a lot of images then you can optimize your entire media catalog. Isn’t that amazing?
One of the advantages of EWWW Image Optimizer plugin is that instead of connecting to a third party service the image optimization process takes place within your servers by default. It means your optimization tasks will require less time, which can come in handy when tackling large media libraries since regular-sized files (<1mb) should take a few seconds at the most.
This local image optimization process is made possible by including several pre-compiled binaries, by installing them from your local WordPress folder. It means some users may run into difficulties completing the setup process if they don’t have permission to execute the files.
To combat this potential issue, the EWWW Image Optimizer plugin also offers a cloud optimization feature, which while taking a bit longer, enables you to bypass this setup process. It’s also worth noting that while the plugin uses lossless optimization methods by default, it also lets you apply lossy reductions for even more significant reductions in file size.
For those who don’t know about lossless image optimization, it simply means that there is no reduction in the quality of the image. Whereas in lossy image optimization some data from the original image file is lost.
2. WP Smush
WP Smush is another image compression and optimization plugin, developed by WPMU DEV’s image optimization plugin, available in both free and pro formats. Wp Smush Pro is User’s choice award winner and with its incredible power, you can save lots of space and further increase your page speed.
For different files, WP Smush image optimizer works differently. For instance, JPEG files are optimized using compression and stripping meta-data whereas certain GIF’s are converted to indexed PNG’s. Further un-used colors are stripped from indexed images.
You can automatically optimize and resize every image in any directory on your WordPress or multisite on upload. As it is typical with this sort of plugin, any images you upload to your WordPress site will be automatically optimized (or ‘smushed,’ as this plugin’s developers like to call it).
With bulk optimization option, you can tackle multiple tasks at once – perfect if you’re looking to compress your image backlog after installing the plugin. This bulk option is limited to 50 files at a time in the free version of the plugin. With the free version you don’t need to create an account and also there is no need of any API key.
Head over to the Media Library to smush(as the plugin’s developers like to call it) individual files by clicking on them and clicking on the Smush option on the Attachment Details window. This option comes in handy when you prefer not to use the bulk optimization option and have only a few images you’d like to compress.
By default, WP Smush is a lossless image optimizer, but its pro version includes a Super-Smush option which optimizes each image multiple times using lossy compression techniques. This method cuts filesizes almost by half with a minimal loss of quality, which is a great combination.
3. Kraken Image Optimizer
Kraken.io Image Optimizer Plugin is a robust, ultra-fast image optimizer and compressor with best-in-class algorithms. It saves a lot of bandwidth and storage space and dramatically improves your website’s load times. It can reduce the file size by 63%, which is great! It is easy to install and get your site loading faster right away. This image optimizer plugin allows you to optimize all images uploaded to your business or blog. Existing images can be optimized from within the Media Library. Any newly uploaded images are optimized on-the-fly. Any generated thumbnails are optimized too.
To optimize images for web (or ‘Kraken’ as its developers call it) you need to create a free account at Kraken.io and get your API and secret keys which can be used across multiple Wordpress installations. Various file formats like PNG, JPG and GIF are supported by this smart web image optimizer.
By default, the Kraken Image Optimizer will optimize your images using an ‘intelligent lossy’ compression technique, which yields drastic savings without notably impacting image quality.
However, on the settings page, you can also manually enable the option for lossless optimization. You can also set a specific value for the quality of your JPG images, which ranges from 25 to 99 in case you want to test things out a little.
Another wonderful feature of Kraken is that it allows you to establish a maximum resolution for your images so that you won’t need to resize them manually when uploading to avoid breaking your pages. This plugin preserves EXIF metadata and also lets you choose which attributes to keep, and finally. During a bulk to avoid hitting your request limits you can set a limit on the number of optimized images.
4. ShortPixel Image Optimizer
ShortPixel not only scores well when it comes to compression, but it also packs a friendly interface. With a 90% compression rate, it can be highly effective. This Web Image Optimizer reduces image size without affecting the quality of the image.
To set up the ShortPixel Image Optimizer plugin, you’ll need to enter an API key during the activation process, which you got for free by signing up with your email to their subscription list and doesn’t require any additional information. Free signup entitles you to 100 image compressions per month, and credits for other tasks can be purchased separately or earned by referring new users to the service.
After installing and activating the plugin, every JPG, PNG, GIF, PDF, and WebP you upload will get optimized automatically, but it doesn’t enable you to turn off this option at all, as most others do.
The ShortPixel plugin installs directly into your WordPress Dashboard where you can easily manage the image reduction process. All images will be automatically processed and you can configure ShortPixel plugin to compress past images and optimize your website history.
It includes a bulk optimization tool, and compression of individual images is by opening the Media Library in the List View format, where each file will appear with an individual Optimize Now button alongside it.
By default, ShortPixel uses lossy image optimization technique but it can be changed to lossless technique. It optimizes all of the thumbnails created during the upload process, is capable of removing EXIF data (or preserve it you prefer), can establish a maximum resolution for your images, and best of all, it automatically saves a backup of every image you upload to a new folder.
5. Compress JPG & PNG Images
Compress JPG & PNG Images Plugin makes the website faster by optimizing and compressing images by integrating popular image compression services like TinyJPG and TinyPNG.
Like a typical image compression plugin it automatically optimizes new images on upload and also bulk images can be optimized easily through Media Library. You can resize large original images by setting a maximum width and height.
JPEG images are displayed more quickly with progressive JPEG encoding. It preserves copyright metadata, creation date and GPS location in the original images. One other special feature is that it supports compression of animated PNG. Further, it is WP Retina 2x and WP Offload compatible.
But Compress JPG & PNG Images Plugin is slightly more drastic than the other plugins mentioned on this list when it comes to image optimization. It employs only lossy compression methods and there is no option for lossless compression.
The plugin doesn’t offer many configuration options in its settings page. However, you can choose maximum resolutions for the uploaded images, pick sizes you want to compress (i.e., thumbnail, medium, etc.), and whether or not to preserve the copyright information of each file if available.
Despite these limitations, Compress JPG & PNG images perform very well when it comes to the optimization process, and is most of the WordPress users consider it a 5-star plugin. That’s why our tests didn’t show any visible reduction in quality of the photos after processing.
6.Optimus Image Optimizer
Optimus performs admirably when it comes to image optimization and compression. Just like Optimus Prime, it is impressive and amazing with lots of features. It comes in one free and two premium version. The free version of this plugin includes a somewhat stifling 100kb file size cap on the images you can process, which essentially renders it a glorified demo.
Optimus extracts any superfluous information that is saved by image processing programs and is not even necessary for displaying the image. This way, the quality of the graphics remains intact while the image size is reduced significantly.
After the image optimization and transfer process, the Optimus server immediately deletes all the temporarily stored files. No files are stored! Optimus servers are located in Germany.
That being said, Optimus has a simple settings menu, which makes it a good choice if you’re looking for sheer performance and are not interested in fine-tuning the details of the optimization process.
By default, Optimus will (pardon the pun) optimize uploaded images, but it won’t show the compression details on the Attachment Details window of each file, or in the menu, so we need to compare manually the file sizes to notice any differences.
This plugin won’t only optimize the files you upload, but also the multiple sized images that WordPress automatically creates for these media files (i.e., thumbnail, small, medium, and large). These processes happen in the background.
Let’s Put them to the Test
So far we’ve covered each plugin’s features, as well as their pros and cons. Now it’s time to see how they fare against each other when it comes to their intended purpose: image optimization.
We’ve split the actual testing between JPG and PNG files since they’re the most commonly used types of graphics files on most websites, and a single image with average file size for each.
To get the best possible results, we’ve chosen lossy image optimization when possible, but that proved impossible with WP Smush and Optimus, due to a lack of alternatives. Despite the disparity in the results obtained from these particular plugins, we decided it would be best to include them alongside the rest for the sake of completion since they remain some of the most popular image optimization tools available for WordPress.
We’d like to remind everyone that these results are far from exhaustive. Your mileage may vary depending on which particular image you choose to optimize, and these findings should be viewed only as an example of how each plugin performs individually.
As we can see, the plugins which applied a lossy optimization method obtained roughly similar scores across the board, with Kraken Image Optimizer and Compress JPEG & PNG Images pulling ahead by a tiny margin.
Due to its slight edge when it comes to the compression percentage (plus all of its additional features), we’re going to recommend you go with Kraken Image Optimizer if you use mostly JPG files on your site.
Compress JPEG & PNG Images comes somewhat close as well, but unfortunately, it lacks the variety of features that Kraken includes. However, if you’re not interested in in-depth configuration options and only want a potent optimization tool, it might be right up your alley.
In this round, ShortPixel Image Optimizer took the lead with a slight advantage over the winners of the last section – once again with no noticeable reduction in the quality of the optimized images.
ShortPixel was one of our favorite plugins to use during the testing phase of this list due to its descriptive settings menu including short descriptions for each feature. Its only downside is that it limits you to a maximum of 100 images per month and you’re required to purchase credits for any additional optimization tasks – same as the runner-up, Compress JPG & PNG Images.
While optimizing your images won’t make your site magically load in milliseconds, it’s one of those things that show you take every small detail into consideration. Even if the resources you save aren’t substantial to you as far as bandwidth goes (and let’s face it, bandwidth is pretty cheap), visitors with slow connections will be thankful for it.
Just keep in mind that while we may have tested all of these plugins with different images, you will find that the results vary depending on the image you use. If you want to tackle image optimization seriously for your projects, we recommend that you take the time to individually test some of our frontrunners to see for yourself just which plugin you prefer.
Have you found different results with any of these image optimization plugins? Let us know and subscribe to the comments section below!