Having a fast loading speed is incredibly important. For every extra millisecond spent loading, you will lose out on first-time visitors, returning visitors and potentially customers as well.
There are many ways you can speed up your website, but one of the areas that usually has the most room for improvement, is the images on a website. A lot of the time, images become a sort of after-thought to the written content, and this often means that someone just finds a Creative Commons image somewhere, uploads it, and slaps it on their new post or page.
When this process is repeated, it starts having a significant impact on the loading speed of the homepage and all pages on your website containing images. It can also leave your SEO lacking as well as this bad habit often spills over into the inserting of images into content as well.
Thankfully, there is a plugin for that. In fact, there are multiple good ones that can fix this problem.
In this post, we’ll cover 8 of the best image optimization plugins for WordPress, with a heavy focus on things that improve loading speed.
WordPress Image Optimization Plugins
EWWW Image Optimizer
If you’ve not been optimizing any of your images, and your website has hundreds or even thousands of un-optimized images lying around, the last thing on your mind is probably going to be optimizing them all one image at a time.
That’s where EWWW Image Optimizer comes in. You can quickly and easily optimize in bulk, making it a virtually painless process. You can even bulk change image formats to more size-friendly ones.
If you want to get the size down as much as possible, you have the options for lossy JPG and PNG optimizations. This means that there will be some loss of quality in return for a smaller file size.
Note: The Bulk Optimize option is under Media in the dashboard, not on the typical EWWW setting.
BJ Lazy Load
In a nutshell, lazy loading changes the browser’s priorities when it starts to load a page on your website, delaying the loading of objects until they are actually needed.
BJ Lazy Load plugin applies this concept not only to images but also iframes, helping the loading of the “above the fold” part of the website be loaded much quicker. This plugin automatically activates the lazy load functionality upon installation and activation.
Note: If you’re using a cache plugin you need to delete/refresh the cache before this plugin will have any effect.
If you find yourself in a state of borderline psychosis having to resize pictures manually one by one, then Imsanity is just the right plugin for you. Imsanity lets you set a max height and max width for images and will automatically resize images to a set size upon upload.
This means you can, for example, set the max size to the preferred size for your pictures and never have to resize main pictures again. This can be a great relief if you have outside contributors that don’t always crop photos when they submit their pieces.
If you’re not already familiar with WP Smush.it, it is a service that strips additional(and usually unnecessary) data from images as well as optimizing it.
The plugin offers a bulk compression option (although it warns that it is experimental) that allows you to smush a multitude of images effortlessly in one go. It would be a good idea to back up your site before you give this option a go, just in case it acts upon you! You can access the bulk compression option under Media -> Bulk Smush.it.
PB Responsive Images
Not only can unresponsive images be unfriendly to mobile browsers and completely mess up how your website is supposed to look, they make your site load slower on mobile than it honestly has to. If instead of being told to load the 1080 x 720 picture, the browser got told to load a much more mobile appropriate size, you can cut a lot of excess weight. And that’s exactly what PB Responsive Images does.
See More: 13 Amazing WordPress Mobile Plugins
While it offers some implementation options that can be a bit tricky for beginners, it offers a lot of versatility to the more WordPress/code savvy with shortcodes to customize the settings from an image to image, and helper functions that allow you to customize settings for specific themes/layouts.
Like PB Responsive images, Hammy offers up a different, smaller image for smaller devices/screens.
While Hammy does require jQuery to work, thankfully the standard jQuery libraries included in newer WordPress versions is enough to cover that end.
An impressive thing about Hammy is that it also includes an option for Lazy Loading, effectively making it two-plugins-in-one. It is also slightly more beginner friendly than PB Responsive Images, while possibly not offering quite the same amount of versatility or customization options. Although for most users and websites, those options might be a slight overkill. And although this is a very small thing, Hammy also has a slightly more visually appealing and intuitive user interface.
The only slight hiccup in setting Hammy up, is that you have to enter the content class/id that is used across pages. (This will typically be .entry-content or #content, but if it’s not then you have to go find it.)
You can find out quickly by looking up the page source and searching for, “entry-content” or “content”.
If those searches come up empty, or don’t show search for the headline of a recent post, and right under the </header> tag should be a new container that should look something like <div class=”CLASS”> or <div id=”ID”>
Then you just copy ->paste that class or id into hammy, and you’re good to go.
Media File Renamer
This plugin is not about optimizing for speed, but rather, optimizing for search engines. If you weren’t very SEO conscious when you first started your website, more likely than not, your image, and other media files will not have ideal names. That’s where the Media File Renamer plugin comes in.
Not only can you easily change file names by changing their respective titles, the scanning option helps you quickly identify problem data, speeding up the process even further.
You can access the plugin under Media> File Renamer.
SEO Friendly Images
Like Media File Renamer, SEO Friendly Images is for those who either didn’t care enough about SEO in the past to write-up specific alt descriptions for every image or those who care, but don’t want to fix all the little details per image manually.
If you did not write an ALT for your photos, this plugin will fix this by applying universal rules that you can easily change to suit your needs.
Selecting and using some of these plugins you will be able to optimize your images not only for speed, but for WordPress SEO purposes as well.
But an important thing to note is that while some of these plugins will resize the photos for you automatically, they will not intelligently crop out the unnecessary parts of a photo. This is unfortunately something that still needs to be done manually.
The beautiful thing about a properly cropped image is that it remains clear across devices and on any screen size, whereas a big picture with a lot of unnecessary parts that gets resized might no longer clearly represent what you want it to portray.