Why you need an image optimization plugin for WordPress

Image optimization

On user came to us and asked why he needs an image optimization plugin. He used to compress his images with an image editor, and he was genuinely interested to find what advantages an automated solution has. To be more precise, he asked “why my way to compress images isn’t the best option?”

Why compress images with a WordPress plugin


1. Optimized Thumbnails

If you use a tool to compress your images before uploading them to WP Media Library like our used did, we will tell you that this method isn’t enough.

Each of these images has a number of thumbnails automatically generated by WordPress upon adding a new picture. WordPress saves these thumbnails using the 90% quality setting, which isn’t enough for having compressed images.

Let’s give you an example. This 300 x 200 thumbnail was generated by WordPress when we uploaded this image to our Media Library.

helio ha 217185

The original thumbnail had 14.07 KB, but ShortPixel reduced it to 9.86 KB which represents a 30% improvement.

What happens when we don’t use an image optimization plugin, and we compress the image before upload?

Optimizilla online compressor was able to reduce our original image with 58%. Not so good as ShortPixel (83%), but not bad either. We uploaded the compressed image to our Media Library, and we compared the 300 X 200 thumbnail generated by WordPress with the one compressed by ShortPixel.

The 300 x 200 thumbnail has now 14.06 KB. It is obvious that using an image optimization plugin is more efficient when you want to have smaller thumbnails.

300 X 200

ShortPixel optimizer plugin

1. Upload original image.

2. WP generates thumbnails.

3. ShortPixel optimize all images.
3.2 MB522.61 KB9.86 KB

Without an image optimization plugin

1. Compress original image.

2. Upload the compressed image.

3. WP generates thumbnails.
3.2 MB1.31 MB14.06 KB

The thumbnails are the images displayed most often on your site. So, if you don’t optimize them, then the benefits of uploading compressed images will be limited. And sometimes 0.


2. Productivity

Productivity wise, you need automated solutions for all those tasks which eat your attention and time. For each new blog post you have to:
– research and write,
– take pictures OR find the right images,
– optimize the pictures,
– upload them,
– edit your final article.

If you take out one of these steps, then your productivity will increase tremendously.

Of course, you could continue to manually compress each image, but it is a time-consuming task and it fragments your work. Wouldn’t be better for you to have more time for the tasks you really enjoy?


3. Fewer Errors

Image optimization services deal with millions of images, tens of thousands of users tested their compression results. These services can miss the quality/compression ratio from time to time, but much less often than a regular user.

Of course, the professional photographers can say with confidence that their eyes are better trained than any algorithms. It’s true, but we noticed that even the best photographers choose to automatically optimize their images for the web.  Moreover, we built a special optimization method called Glossy. It seems that we nailed it and the photographers using ShortPixel are happy with it 🙂


4. Upload images right after you take them

We showed you that automatic image optimization saves time, but it is also important to put your images online in a timely manner. You see something nice on streets or when you travel and you want to tell your readers about it right away. Take the snapshot, write a few words and post it. The image optimization plugins will reduce your images almost instantaneously.


5. Larger images are automatically resized

Many optimization plugins allow you to resize the images on upload. This feature is very helpful. Think at the difference in size between a 3,000×3,000 px image and 1,024×1,024 px image. All that extra weight will slow your website and will spend your hosting resources.


6. Good copyrighters with poor technical skills

Let’s be honest, many amazing copyrighters don’t know how to complete the most common image editing tasks, and for many of them the work with the image editing software is pretty challenging.

When editors don’t know or forget to optimize images, an automatic solution takes care of the job.


What an image optimization plugin does

There are two types of image optimization plugins:
– the plugins working on your servers,
– the plugins which optimize your images in the cloud.
The former are free, need more powerful servers, and they are less efficient. It make you site load slower while images are being optimized. The latter have limited free accounts, don’t stress your servers, and offer you a more effective image compression.

Most of the popular image optimization plugins work on SAS model (SAS = Software As Service) which uses cloud computing for solving the needs locally. In our particular case, image optimization plugins copy your images on their servers, compress the pictures using proved algorithms, and replace your existing files with the optimized ones.

image optimization plugins

If you don’t like the results or if you want to try a different compression method, then we have good news. Some of these plugins – ShortPixel is one of them – keep the original files in a backup folder so you could restore the original images when you want.


How to compress images without a WordPress plugin

There are a lot of software solutions to compress your images locally, from Photoshop and Gimp to IrfanView.

best photo editor software
Google and the Google logo are registered trademarks of Google Inc., used with permission.

The image optimization process looks like this: you open a file and when you save it you choose the right amount of compression. After saving the image, you need to check it to see if its picture quality is fine. Finally, you upload the images to your WordPress site.

Image optimization has some important benefits: less hosting space, reduced bandwidth, faster websites, happier users and better SERPs. If you chose to not use an automated solution, and you continue to manually optimize your images, we recommend you to do it consistently and don’t upload unoptimized images to your site. Remember that your thumbs won’t be optimized.


Try an image optimization plugin!

Once you install a good image optimization WordPress plugin you feel the benefits and you understand why such solutions make your life easier. But if you are new to the image optimization services, check out the image optimization plugin comparison we recently wrote or you just skip it and try ShortPixel! 🙂

Image credits: Helio Ha

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