How to optimise WordPress website images

We can all agree that website images have the ability to grab a reader’s attention, break up large chunks of text and enhance the likelihood of content being share across the internet. Sadly, images will also increase the load time of your web pages which, in turn, increases the likelihood visitors will leave your site. Add to this; too many images can significantly increase your bandwidth. Not such a big deal when you first start out but can increase your hosting costs in the long run. So, how do you optimise WordPress website images to ensure both bandwidth and load times are considering?

File Formats

The most commonly used file formats online are JPEG and PNG with GIF to a lesser extent:

  • JPEGS are better suited for photography due to the number of colours they contain. This format uses compression in order to reduce file size.
  • PNGs are more suited to screenshots and website design images such as icons and buttons. Using lossless compression techniques the quality is better, but this also means larger file sizes.
  • GIFs are better suited for low quality images with only a few colours. This format is best known as the file format for animated files.

Optimising images before uploading

You can adjust the sizes of images as you see choose or you can configure WordPress to create:

  • 150×150 pixel thumbnail image
  • 300×200 pixel medium image
  • Or, 600×600 pixel large image

If you uploaded an image that was 1000 pixels wide, you could display the large image in your article and link to the full size image. This is exactly what many website owners do although it’s not always the best course of action. The file size of thumbnail images will be smaller however it won’t be compressed.

A much more effective method is to optimise images BEFORE uploading them to the website. Most editing software and platforms allow you to reduce the size/compress the image for use online.

Optimising images after uploading

There are many plugins available which allow you to optimise your images after you have uploaded them to your website. While not ideal – it can save time. Plugins, such as Smush.it, allow you to optimise by converting GIF files to PNG, removing meta-data, optimising JPEG compression and more.

The importance of optimising your images should not be underestimated – it will reduce your page loading time, reduce bandwidth and improve your website experience for visitors. Just keep in mind that compressing image will reduce both the file size and the quality of the image – here’s where creating balance is of the utmost importance.