How to Optimize WordPress Images Automatically Without Losing Quality

Whether you’re an active blogger who occasionally uses images or a photoblogger who documents experiences with an image-heavy blog, optimization of image files needs to be a priority for you.

The Problem:

Many images contain extra bytes within them that are unnecessary. It’s quite simple: smaller images means your site loads faster, which improves your user’s experience and their likelihood to return. Since site performance is now a factor in Google’s rankings, anything you can do to optimize your images will more than likely also benefit your SEO.

Quick Solution:

I am always looking for solutions and the best ones are those that WordPress users can implement with the least amount of hassle and frustration. That’s why I’d like to recommend the WP Smush.it Plugin for easy image optimization.

What is Smush.it?

Smush.it is an open source image optimization project offered through Yahoo’s YSlow analyzation for high performance websites and developed according to their best practices for speeding up your website.

Smush.it uses optimization techniques specific to image format to remove unnecessary bytes from image files. It is a “lossless” tool, which means it optimizes the images without changing their look or visual quality.

Luckily, this has been made into a plugin for WordPress users. The WP Smush.it Plugin makes image optimization for WordPress as easy as install and activate. After you’ve done this you can check to see the percentage by which your images have been reduced by visiting your WordPress media library.

Benefits of WP Smush.it Plugin:

  • Strips meta data from JPEGs
  • Optimizes JPEG compression
  • Converts certain GIFs to indexed PNGs
  • Strips the un-used colours from indexed images

As a quick test, I went ahead and installed this on a small/medium-sized WordPress site with approximately 80 images contained within posts and pages. I was able to reduce most of the images by approximately 37-53% on average for each.

The only thing I wish the plugin included was a batch processor for retroactively optimizing images that were uploaded before you installed the plugin, because you have to smush the images one by one in the media library, which isn’t very convenient. Once it is installed it will automatically smush images you upload. Other than that small issue, this is a great plugin for optimizing the images on smaller to medium sized blogs or simple WordPress as CMS sites and will offer a boost in performance.

Other Ways to Speed Up Your WordPress Site:

Dramatically Speed Up WordPress/WPMU Load Times With This Simple Tip!
Maximize WordPress and BuddyPress Performance With W3 Total Cache

Comments (22)

  1. Sarah,

    I just installed and activated it from the plugin directory. When I hit “save changes” to actually run the program, I got this error:

    “Error! Options page not found.”

    I’m on MU…maybe it doesn’t work with MU?

  2. Having created an image specific plug-in, http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/choicecuts-image-juggler/, myself I am aware of how much programming can go into creating something like this. I have to say I am impressed with the potential bandwidth savings this offers. A few questions come to mind though.

    1. What impact will this have on the upload process in terms of memory usage and is there a time lag in relation to uploading images?
    2. With add_image_size since WP2.9 there can be an indefinite number of image size variants – will this plug-in auto update all variants?

  3. i didn’t know that there is a such plugin like this one. i’ve been having a lot of problems with my websites’ images lately. usually i just post my images even if they weigh a lot. how do you know if your website loads slow because of the images? i have a number of images that weigh megabytes but when i check some of my websites it’s running fine (although sometimes it’s not but i assume it’s because of my hosting). just worried about how fast my website runs when it’s visited by other people. thanks for posting this!

  4. BP 1.2.3 and WPMU 2.9.2 and I activated it sitewide
    There is an option in smush.it which says

    When Smush.it suggests converting a GIF to a PNG file…
    option 1:Leave the GIF alone
    option 2:Overwrite the GIF with a PNG

    When I choose option 2 it says
    “Error! Options page not found.”

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