I look at three different services and five options to come to a simple conclusion on how to optimize your images to speed up your website.
We all know that the speed of a page load is a determining factor in search engine rankings. So it makes sense to optimize your images.
Quick tips to speed up your website
- Use JPG rather than PNG files. These allow for compression although when you need background transparency you must use PNGs.
- Only use the size you actually need. Here’s how:
- Get an approximate size by what you think you’ll need. Error on the side of larger.
- Implement the images on your site and size them within the editor so they look like what you want.
- Go back and shrink the images to the size you’ll actually use.
- Re-upload them and use the new images.
- When you use JPG, save them at the quality you really need. JPG is lossy and when you save them, you can specify a level of compression.
- Any large images you have, try to reduce the amount of contrast within the image, or the number of colors. This will make them smaller when compressing.
- Try not to use a large background image. Instead, use something that you can repeat in the background – you’ll probably get pretty close to the same effect.
- Use a compression tool within your website.
For this comparison, I used three different tools:
WP Smush.it is free and is provided by WPMU DEV and is very popular. Just install and the only configuration parameters are if you want to compress in bulk or not.
EWWW Image Optimizer
EWWW Image Optimizer is free also. It comes in a cloud version that I haven’t tried.
- Lossy JPG optimization
- Lossy PNG optimization
- remove ALL metadata: EXIF and comments.
There are some other options that can be used to adjust quality, but the main ones to consider are how it processes the images – you can set it up so there are delays and it won’t affect your server as much, for example.
There is a paid version that allows you to use their servers for cloud based compression, similar to WP Smush Pro.
WP Smush Pro
WP Smush Pro is also by WPMU DEV.
It provides several advantages over the free version:
- Compression uses their servers so it doesn’t affect your site speed and thus no timeouts when batch processing
- Smush images up to 5MB (WP Smush.it is limited to 1MB)
- Works with HTTPS images (WP Smush.it won’t work with HTTPS)
Unfortunately, you need to have a membership with WPMU DEV. I bought mine from appsumo at the end of the year pretty inexpensively, and they have several nice plugin options.
Here’s a quick comparison table:
Warning: Please check the quality of your images, especially ones you really care about. Most people probably won’t be able to see a difference, but if you’re doing a photo site, it makes sense to be able to have a page that displays the unaltered image.
Looks to me like the winner is EWWW. That is what I’ll be using on all of my sites from now on.