Optimizing Your Images

Is optimizing images worth the hassle?

It’s a common mistake, you take a beautiful photo, upload it to your blog but it slows down your page loading time right?

Images are essential for your website and research suggests that users are far more likely to stick around and read your content if the page is colourful and has eye-catching images.

The downside though is that if you are not optimizing images then you may be hurting your web page more than actually helping it.

In the last few years, as cameras have evolved, so has the quality of photographs and more quality can mean more detailed images. Depending on the type of camera you use and the settings involved, photos can be anywhere from 1000px wide to 7000px+ wide and can weigh in at well over 25MB.  This is why you need to really think about the size of the image that you are uploading to your WordPress media gallery. By default, WordPress will resize your images to 3 different sizes to speed things up for you as you create posts/pages.

Small (Thumbnail size) – 150 px X 150px

Medium – 300px X 300px

Large – 1024px X 1024px

The first thing to take into consideration is your layout. If you have a content/sidebar type page then it’s best practice to resize your images to the size required. Likewise, if you are uploading an image that is going to be used as a thumbnail  (150 X 150) then there is no point in uploading an image that is 1140 X 1140

Most computers have a resize function, Paint works well on windows as does Preview on a mac.
Gimp and Pixlr are two more free photo editing options.

We have used the following in the past

For paid versions, Photoshop remains the choice of many for any image editing. Another great tool that we highly recommend is Movavi if you are looking for a cheaper alternative to Photoshop.

It is also highly recommended running an image optimizing plugin on your site. This will compress your images without losing any quality but makes them significantly smaller in size. They will strip hidden bulky information from your images and reduce file size but most importantly not lose quality.

TinyPNG is an excellent plugin that is very simple to use. Available in both free and paid format it’s one of the more commonly used plugins and the free version is excellent. Moreso if you have a lower amount of images and no need/budget for the paid version.
Imagify is another good option, you are limited to a quota of 20MB of images per month with a free account, after this you cannot optimize new images until your quota is renewed or you purchase credits. 500MB of data (approx 5,000  images) will set you back $4.99 a month.
There are many more free options available which we will be adding to the list shortly.
Just to add, on this site we use ShortPixel. It produces some excellent results and I have no plans to change anytime soon.

Image optimization is an easy effective step you can take to improve your site from good to great.  Regardless of how many images you have, a small blog with a dozen photos or a gallery site with 5000 photos, it is very important to resize and compress your images correctly!

Another question often asked is JPEG or PNG? This depends on your needs. Preferably JPEGs for photos or images with lots of colour. PNG for simpler images with less quality or logos with transparent backgrounds.
Use JPEG if you have the option.

Just to hammer home the point, here are a few reasons that optimization is an important step to take.

Speed. Slow loading pages are a no-no for viewers, people simply give up and leave if your page loads slowly.

Google rankings. Site speed is a ranking factor in Google.

So make sure to factor image compression into your future work pattern, you will be surprised at the results!

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