How to Optimize Images in WordPress for Better Page Load Time :
Basic theory and some useful plugins :
It will suffice to say that WordPress is one of the most used systems for blogging and content management nowadays. That didn’t happen by accident – it’s because of its ease of use and vast functionality, as well as the good community the platform has. Having that in mind, even a task like optimizing images could be done with minimal knowledge and the right plugins.
Some people ask “ Why bother with image optimization ? “. First of all – images are often the things that make a page size go from tiny to HUGE. Most of the times they make the difference between 1 second and 10 seconds loading time on a slower Internet connection. That makes them the prime target when trying to reduce loading time. Secondly, we have to mention that the human eye sometimes doesn’t spot small differences in quality, and even if the eye does, the mind sometimes doesn’t. Which allows us to have images who lack just a little in quality, but make an immense difference when the page is loaded. So except you’re running a site which needs high-definition images (like a photographer community) you should optimize your images.
The theory behind it :
Think of it this way – the quality of an image is straightly proportional to its size. Higher quality means a higher size. What image compression algorithms most often do is trying to limit the size by identifying sets of consecutive pixels which look the same and represent them as one instance (like a “block”) with one color.
Images of the GIF format also have a palette , and sometimes the colors used in the image are a lot less than the “slots” allocated for colors in the image palette. So sometimes the software can reduce the image size by leaving only the colors used, and stripping the rest of the unused, but allocated space.
While not going into the technical details, if you need an image with support for transparency, it’s best to use PNG instead of GIF. In 90% of the time, it turns out the PNG is smaller while it still does the same job.
Images often come with metadata – date of taking the picture, author and so on. If the image is graphical element of your page (like a logo, for example)
Some WordPress Plugins that do the job :
If you haven’t figured it out by yourself, some of your more tech-savvy friends will be giddy to tell you that you don’t actually need a WordPress plugin to optimize the images – any slightly more advanced image editor can do it, all you need is to process each single image on your website. However, as you’ve probably already thought, this is not only time-consuming and tedious, it has to be done for each new picture you decide to get on your site. And the people who thought of a better way, have brought you some plugins. The two most popular are Smush.it and CW Image optimizer.
Smush.it is the favorite of the public, and it operates by taking the pictures , dynamically processing them and putting them in place before they get to be sent to the user. This way each image is optimized the first time it’s introduced to the site. It also has support for the NextGEN gallery.
CW Image Optimizer does basically the same thing , but using the server’s internal resources, rather than “shipping” the images to a central processing place. That has benefits and drawbacks , with the obvious drawback being the inability to use the plugin on most public hosting servers that don’t have the Linux littleutils image optimization tools .
Now that you have the knowledge of why you should do image optimization, how to do it, and what tools are there to ease your work, it should be no problem for you to offer faster loading speeds to your loving visitors. Good luck with website administration!ticle