WordPress image optimizer

Images slow down your site. Plain and simple. But images are still essential for their visual allure, so you can’t just ignore them in the name of performance. To get the best of both worlds, you can use a WordPress image optimizer plugin to compress and optimize images for peak performance. As a result, readers will enjoy the beautiful images and your site will still load fast.

It’s a win-win! πŸŽ‰

When it comes to WordPress image optimizer plugins, you have six excellent options.

πŸ“š To begin with, we’ll test how much each plugin can compress a sample image. Then, we’ll jump into the actual interface for all six image optimizers and we’ll show you how they work and how much they cost.

Let’s get to optimizing!

Hands-on tests with these image optimizer plugins

Right off the bat, we have to say that testing how effectively each of the plugins can optimize the same image can get a bit tricky. The reason for this, is that the WordPress image optimizer plugins function in different ways to get the job done.

For instance, Imagify has Normal, Aggressive, and Ultra optimization modes, while Optimole optimizes all images based on a given set of defaults, or based on manual settings chosen by you.

In addition, some optimizers provide automated resizing tools, which can cut down the file size drastically.

Because of those differences, it’s hard to come up with an objective comparison.

However, we created a process to make our test as accurate as possible. Here’s how we did it:

  • We ran two tests: one for JPG files and one for PNGs.
  • We stuck with the default settings for all plugins and did not resize the photos at all.

Though it’s not a perfect one-for-one comparison, by sticking with the default settings, we were able to emulate the experience of a casual user. What we mean is that most people will typically install the image compression plugin and not tinker too much with the default settings. This is what we’re interested in most – how each WordPress image optimizer performs right out of the box, without forcing the user to complete any tedious steps.

🌟 A quick note about Optimole

Among the plugins we’ll be testing and discussing in this image optimizer comparison breakdown is Optimole. It’s a tool developed and meticulously maintained by our team here at Themeisle.

We wanted to draw your attention to it because while this post focuses mainly on image compression, website performance optimization is a complex puzzle with many pieces. Optimole is designed to address this multifaceted challenge head-on, offering features that go beyond only compressing images.

Some of these include:

  • Serving images from a global CDN for free
  • Instantly optimizing images based on device (e.g., mobile phone vs laptop)
  • Automatically adjusting the quality of an image based on internet connection
  • Lazy loading without relying on jQuery (a more efficient method)
  • Using AI to enable “smart cropping”, which maintains an image’s ideal dimensions without sacrificing its focal point

For the above reasons – and many more – we believe that it offers the most comprehensive approach to improving website performance. With that said, let’s get into the tests…

Testing each WordPress image optimizer with JPG files

This was our JPG test subject:

jpg for WordPress image optimizer test.

It is a 3000 x 2000px JPG image with a size of 3.9 MB. It’s a high-resolution landscape shot with a range of complex colors, and elements we can use to notice any imperfections during the compression.

And here are the test results after we ran the JPG through each WordPress image optimizer:

PluginOriginal SizeSize After OptimizationOptimization PercentageTypes of Compression Offered
ShortPixel3.9 MB400 KB90%Lossy, Glossy, and Lossless
EWWW3.9 MB593.6 KB84.2%Lossy
TinyPNG3.9 MB852.8 KB78%Lossy
Optimole3.9 MB1.18 MB69.6%Lossy and Lossless
Imagify3.9 MB2.07 MB47%Lossy and Lossless
Smush3.9 MB1 MB73%Lossy and Lossless

⚠️ Note: Lossy compression usually produces the smallest image sizes without losing quality, making it the best option in most situations.

Sticking with default settings, ShortPixel is the clear winner, coming in with a ~90% reduction in file size using its lossy compression. EWWW gets second place, and TinyPNG isn’t far behind.

Smush and Optimole also had respectable numbers, decreasing the JPG size by ~73% and ~70%, respectively. Despite using lossy compression, Imagify only shrank the image by ~47%.

Testing each WordPress image optimizer with PNG files

Here’s the PNG test image:

PNG test subject for WordPress image optimizers.

The file is a 1311 x 1138px screenshot of the Neve theme with a starting size of 446 KB. The PNG offers more of a focus on white space, illustrations, and clean lines, which makes compression a little different from what you’d expect from a JPG photograph. You’ll also notice that varying file sizes produce unique compression results.

PluginOriginal SizeSize After OptimizationOptimization PercentageTypes of Compression Offered
ShortPixel446 KB100 KB77%Lossy, Glossy, and Lossless
Imagify446 KB164.5 KB62%Lossy and Lossless
EWWW446 KB164.6 KB62%Lossy
Optimole446 KB181 KB59.4%Lossy and Lossless
TinyPNG446 KB190.1 KB57%Lossy
Smush446 KB126 KB70.9%Lossy and Lossless

This time, the competition was more fierce. ShortPixel remained in the top spot with 77% optimization, yet Smush surged up through the rankings to claim the #2 spot, with ~71% optimization. To make things even closer, Imagify and EWWW both optimized the PNG by ~62%! So there was a tie for 3rd.

Optimole was no slouch either, showing an optimization result of 59.4%, while TinyPNG looked good at 57%.

Our final take on the testing

After two real-world optimization tests, the overall winner is ShortPixel for both JPG and PNG optimization. Other contenders for JPG compression on WordPress include EWWW, TinyPNG, and Smush. Other suitable tools for PNG optimization are Smush, Imagify, and EWWW.

Note: ⚠️ You may see that the image degradation is more prevalent with extreme optimization settings. For instance, I actually noticed a clear difference in how the PNG looked through Optimole – since by default that plugin gets more aggressive with its file shrinking.

πŸ‘‰ With the test out of the way, below is our in-depth comparison of the best WordPress image optimizer plugins on the market:

The six WordPress image optimizer plugins we’ll compare

Here are the six WordPress image compression plugins that we’re going to compare:

  1. Optimole
  2. ShortPixel Image Optimizer
  3. Imagify
  4. EWWW Image Optimizer
  5. Compress JPEG & PNG images by TinyPNG
  6. Smush Image Compression and Optimization

1. Image optimization service by Optimole

How’s the interface? πŸ€”

Optimole’s image optimization plugin is clean and modern, with most of the tools running in the background without you knowing. It requires a quick account creation and API key insertion. After that, you can view all optimized images in the dashboard and change certain settings like image replacement, resizing of large images, compression quality, and lazy loading.

optimole interface.

Optimole also has its own dashboard outside of WordPress. Here you can find more detailed information like the optimization sizes and monthly reports.

How are the features? βš™οΈ

Optimole completes all image optimizations automatically. It’s also powered by a CDN so you don’t have to worry about your images loading slowly. Tracking is one of the best features, since you receive very specific details on which images got optimized, and how much space you saved. Along with lazy loading and image resizing, Optimole provides a nice optimization package without the need to pay any money.

Optimole WordPress image optimizer.

How’s the pricing? πŸ’°

The Free plan allows 5,000 unique visitors per month and unmetered bandwidth, making it an excellent fit for personal WordPress blogs. They sell three other plans, starting at $19.08 per month (when billed yearly) for 50,000 unique visits each month, auto-scaling images, smart lazy-loading, and customer support. You also receive a CDN when upgrading to a paid plan, to host your images externally.

Optimole sells a Business plan starting at $39.08 per month for 100k monthly visits. You can upgrade for more visitors. The Business plan allows for a custom domain as well.

Test Drive Go to Optimole

2. ShortPixel Image Optimizer

How’s the interface? πŸ€”

ShortPixel’s dashboard offers simplicity and quick buttons to choose your compression type, handle image backups, and resize large images. There are numerous extra tabs for advanced features. However, the average user can go with the default settings, and the main page is mainly where you’ll stick around.

ShortPixel interface.

An API key is required, but you can request an API within seconds right from the dashboard.

How are the features? βš™οΈ

ShortPixel lets you choose from Lossy, Glossy, and Lossless modes. They even have a testing link to help you decide between the three options.

ShortPixel testing.

You can also resize large images upon upload and see how much space you’ve saved.

ShortPixel has some other features that more advanced users will like, including:

  • PDF optimization
  • WebP image support
  • Cloudflare integration if you’re using a CDN
  • Additional media folders
  • PNG to JPEG conversion
  • Optimization of retina images
  • Thumbnail optimization or exclusion

How’s the pricing? πŸ’°

ShortPixel provides 100 free image credits every month. If you need more, the plans start at $3.99 for 7,000 image credits. File size limit is 100MB for all the plans, and you can upgrade to optimize more images.

Test Drive Go to ShortPixel

3. Imagify

How’s the interface? πŸ€”

Imagify is an image compression plugin for WordPress that has the best-looking Settings module on this list. It’s broken down into General Settings, Optimization, and Display Options, with only one page to manage settings.

optimization.

We like how the optimization choices get presented with large buttons.

Imagify interface.

You must sign up for a free account to acquire an API key to activate Imagify’s features.

How are the features? βš™οΈ

In the optimization testing, Imagify performed well. But that was while using the default Smart optimization setting. You can also go with Lossless. These are the two compression levels you will find in Imagify. So, you could compress your images more, or less, if you’re worried about quality.

Imagify compression comparison.

Other than that, you can set up most features for automation. For instance, you might resize all images to a specific width. There’s even a tool for optimizing your WordPress theme.

Imagify WordPress image optimizer.

How’s the pricing? πŸ’°

Imagify pricing has three plans based on the total image size of your monthly uploads. The free plan allows 20 MB of images per month, which they estimate as 200 images.

The Growth plan offers 500 MB per month (aprox. 5,000 images) for $4.16, while the Infinite plan provides unlimited uploads and starts at $8.33 per month (when paid yearly).

Test Drive Go to Imagify

4. EWWW Image Optimizer

How’s the interface? πŸ€”

EWWW offers an updated, one-page interface to see an optimization score, local compression savings, and recommendations to improve optimization across your site.

EWWW interface.

New media uploads occur in the background, and the plugin offers a bulk optimizer to speed up the process. Compressions happen without acquiring an API key, which makes the interface a little easier to understand than the competition. However, you have the option to use the API for improved optimization and priority support.

How are the features? βš™οΈ

EWWW offers JPG, PNG, GIF, and PDF optimization. There are also options for both lossy and lossless compression. The major benefit is that EWWW has no limits on file sizes or the number of images uploaded.

Additionally, the free version of EWWW performs optimizations on your own web server, whereas all the other tools use external servers. This is nice for privacy-focused sites. But it can put a strain on your server if you optimize a lot of images at once.

As a bonus, EWWW offers Easy and Ludicrous Modes. The Easy Mode has all the essentials for out-of-the-box compression, while Ludicrous Mode opens up many options for conversions, overrides, resizing, and more.

EWWW features - WordPress image optimizer.

How’s the pricing? πŸ’°

The main EWWW plugin is free. For extra features, consider one of the paid plans:

  • Standard: $7 per month for extras like CSS optimization, a limited CDN, and 200 GB bandwidth. This plan supports one site.
  • Growth: $15 per month for 10 sites, a global CDN, 400 GB bandwidth, and custom domain support.
  • Infinite: $25 per month for unlimited sites, 800 GB bandwidth, and site speed audits.
Test Drive Go to EWWW

5. Compress JPEG & PNG images by TinyPNG

How’s the interface? πŸ€”

The TinyPNG plugin sticks to the basics, with a simple, clean Settings page. It takes maybe 20 seconds to understand what’s going on and activate your automated optimization process.

TinyPNG interface.

It’s the closest thing to a beginner’s interface you can find, with recommended settings throughout the process and only a few steps to complete everything you need.

How are the features? βš™οΈ

features.

TinyPNG automatically compresses and resizes images upon upload. It also has options for optimizing previously uploaded images. Furthermore, TinyPNG lets you resize images on the WordPress dashboard while also choosing which image sizes to compress, from thumbnails to the original images. Along with no file size limits and WooCommerce support, this is a pretty appealing plugin.

How’s the pricing? πŸ’°

When it comes to TinyPNG’s pricing, clarity is key. The initial 500 compressions per month are offered at no cost, making it an accessible choice for those with lighter optimization needs.

Beyond this free tier, TinyPNG adopts a straightforward pricing structure at $0.009 per compression for the next 9,500 compressions. As your optimization needs progress and surpass 10,000 compressions, TinyPNG introduces a price break at $0.002 per compression.

The nice thing is that it’s very easy to figure out your monthly cost needs because the TinyPNG interface has a sliding scale that tells you how much you’ll pay based on what you set the scale to. For example, if compress 5,500 images per month, then you will be charged $45.00.

TinyPNG pricing calculator
Test Drive Go to TinyPNG

6. Smush Image Compression and Optimization

How’s the interface? πŸ€”

Smush has a beautiful interface with proactive elements that ask if you’d like to optimize both old photos and new ones. The plugin even offers a quick setup wizard to configure all the basic settings from the start.

setup from Smush - WordPress image optimizer.

The main advantage of Smush is the amount of information provided about your images and how much space you’ve saved.

bulk smush.

How are the features? βš™οΈ

Resizing and optimization are both included with new and old pictures. The bulk optimize tool is great for when you have several pictures.

In the free version, you can only bulk optimize 50 old images at a time, so you might need to click the button a few times if you have lots of images.

Other features from Smush include metadata stripping, automated image resizing, and options to backup your images after uploading them.

Smush features.

How’s the pricing? πŸ’°

One of the benefits of Smush is that it lets you optimize unlimited images for free. There is just one caveat – individual images cannot exceed 5MB.

To remove that limit, you can use WP Smush Pro. This premium plugin starts at $7.50 per month (if you need it for only one website). For additional website support, or to get all the developer plugins from Wpmudev, you can upgrade to pricier packages.

Test Drive Go to Smush

Which WordPress image optimizer should you go with? 🎯

Overall, all of these WordPress image optimizer options are great in their own ways and they will all help speed up your WordPress site.

A lot of this is going to come down personal preference and which interface feels more comfortable for you to navigate. That’s exactly why we included the “Test Drive” links at the bottom of each review, because we encourage you to do exactly that – try them out.

Get a feel for how they work, and then make your decision from there. πŸ’‘

πŸ› οΈ Here’s a recap of the six tools we just reviewed:

  • ShortPixel – For the best optimization and a sleek interface.
  • Optimole – For a fairly powerful free plan and included CDN, lazy loading, and the option to always display a version of the image that’s optimized, specifically to the viewer’s screen and device.
  • Imagify – For excellent compression, features, and interface.
  • EWWW – For a free WordPress image optimizer and no file size limits. And options to use your own server or a third-party.
  • TinyPNG – For excellent optimization and the simplest of all interfaces.
  • Smush – For unlimited free lossy or lossless compression (with a 5MB max for each image).

If you have any further questions about the best WordPress image optimizer tools, let us know in the comments.

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