Images are one of the core components of just about any website. Using them well can enhance your content and make visitors more receptive to what you have to say. However, the downside of using large numbers of high-quality graphics is that they tend to slow down your site. That’s why it’s important to optimize your WordPress images and speed up your site as a result.
This simple process enables you to cut down on the space your images take up and reduce your loading times. In most cases, it won’t noticeably impact the quality of your pictures. Better yet, you can automate the process using several methods, so you won’t have to optimize your WordPress images manually.
In this article, we’ll talk some more about the importance of image optimization. Then we’ll introduce you to five ways you can automate the process for your WordPress site. Let’s jump right in!
What is image optimization and why is it important?
Website image optimization is a process of delivering high-quality images in the right resolution while keeping their disk size low. Image optimization helps you save bandwidth and make your page load faster for your visitors.
A large part of optimizing an image means compressing the file so that it takes up less space. Most image optimization tools are designed to lower the quality of your images as much as possible without having a noticeable impact on the way they look. That’s called ‘lossy’ optimization. There’s also a ‘lossless’ technique that doesn’t shrink an image’s size as much but also doesn’t compromise on image quality.
Beyond compression, there are also other aspects to image optimization like changing your images’ dimensions and server-side optimizations so that your images load faster. Here’s everything image optimization takes care of:
- image optimization helps boost SERP
- reduces the disk space on your hosting server
- serves a better UX with fast loading pages
- boosts product conversion rate and increases revenue
- enhances user engagement on business sites
Now, this may all sound like a hassle to deal with, but most websites these days employ a lot of images. When you add up all those high-quality graphics, they can use up a ton of space and make your pages take longer to load. If there’s something internet users don’t like, it’s a slow-loading site. In fact, page load times directly correlate with both your bounce rate and conversions, so you need to keep your site as fast as possible. Additionally, slow pages make the user hit the back button. This means ranking drop in search engine listings.
In order to avoid those negative outcomes, it’s important to optimize your WordPress images. Here’s how to do it…
Five simple ways to automate image optimization in WordPress
Each of the following five methods enables you to automate image optimization within WordPress. The only question is: which one is the best pick for you? Read on to find out.
1. Employ an image optimization plugin
One of the easiest ways to add an image optimization feature to WordPress is by using a plugin. There are plenty of options that can compress your existing images so they take up less space and automate the process for new uploads. For a good start, check out Optimole, which enables you to pick from multiple optimization profiles and is easy to set up and use:
The great thing about Optimole is that it not only optimizes your images, thus making the file sizes smaller, but it also gives you image acceleration through CDN – loading your image files from multiple locations around the world, not just from your main web server.
2. Use a plugin to resize your images
You’ll often find yourself uploading images to your site that have larger dimensions than your theme can display. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, since high-resolution images look great when viewed at their full resolution, but it can affect how much space they take up in your storage. What’s more, larger images take longer to load, which affects your site’s usability (as we’ve already discussed).
Image optimization plugins like Optimole (featured above) often include features that help you automatically resize images. But if you’re planning to handle compression in another way and want a solution that only handles image resizing, you can use a plugin like Imsanity:
This particular tool automatically resizes the dimensions of images that you upload to your site based on maximum dimension sizes that you choose.
3. Set up a Content Delivery Network (CDN) with an image optimization feature
If you’re familiar with CDNs, then you know what amazing tools they can be to cut down your loading times. They don’t necessarily make your website faster, but they do enable browsers to load your site’s data from a nearby server in order to take the weight off your servers.
Some options, such as Cloudflare, also provide you with built-in features that can handle image optimization.
If you’re using one of Cloudflare’s premium plans, you can opt into their Polish feature to automatically optimize your images. The best part is that it works regardless of which platform you’re using, which is great news for WordPress users.
4. Add a dedicated CDN just for your images
We’ve already talked about how important it is to optimize your WordPress images for the web, so it shouldn’t surprise you to hear there are some CDNs dedicated entirely to graphics. These types of CDNs differ from tools like Cloudflare in that they’re only focused on your images, whereas Cloudflare and other general CDNs serve up HTML files as well.
Take Sirv, for example – this tool takes care of optimizing any images you upload to its servers. Plus, it can help you implement advanced features such as 360-degree spins, automatic responsiveness, and more.
If you want, you can also integrate Sirv with WordPress by using its official plugin. This way, the service will automatically optimize your WordPress images and save you a ton of headaches.
Alternatively, the Photon Module in the Jetpack plugin also acts as a dedicated CDN for just your images.
5. Tweak your functions.php file
WordPress’ functions.php file enables you to define functions, classes, and more for your website. Anyone with a WordPress website can modify its core files by accessing their site via FTP, using a client such as Filezilla and a simple text editor. However, if you’re not a developer, you’ll probably want to stick to adding code snippets you get from trusted sources.
In this case, the functions.php file comes in handy for our needs because it enables us to modify the way WordPress treats images.
Speaking of specific code snippets that you can use, we listed a number of them on our second blog. Just click here to see what’s up.
Learning how to optimize your WordPress images is easy, and it shouldn’t take you long to set up a workable system. After all, there are a lot of ways to add this feature. That means you can enjoy all the benefits of compressed images (such as a quicker site), without micromanaging the process.
Let’s recap five of our favorite methods for automating WordPress image optimization:
- Employ an image optimization plugin.
- Use a plugin to resize your images.
- Set up a CDN with an image optimization feature.
- Add a dedicated image-only CDN.
- Tweak your functions.php file.
Do you have any questions about how to automate WordPress image optimization? Ask away in the comments section below!