If you’re like me, you check your site speed using Google’s PageSpeed Insights or Pingdom’s Website Speed Test and cringe.
You might see something along the lines of these:
Optimize the following images to reduce their size by 78%
Time spent per content type – Image 53.74%
For me, this is a case where a mistake early on in the design and execution of my website has snowballed into a full-fledged problem. After all, what is the point of optimizing for search when your site is so slow that Google isn’t referring anybody to you? And more importantly, how helpful can your content be when people have to wait an extraordinarily long time for it to load?
Yahoo used to have a plugin SmushIt! which it stopped supporting (note: another developer started to support the SmushIt plugin again, though Yahoo still supports is web SmushIt web product). I specifically tried to use it for bulk transformations and it was clunky. I gave up. I acquiesced and posted every gigantor image with a creative commons license that I could find. Who needs Google (or readers for that matter) anyhow?
Here’s a little bit of an overshare about me: I could use external sites (like WebResizer for example) to do this, but I’m too lazy. I could probably find a repository of smaller images, but I’m too lazy (and the Wikipedia creative commons query gives you appropriate attribution verbiage in HTML format). I just want to write, spell-check, proofread and post (truthfully I just want to write and post).
But then I found two (free) plugins that have helped to manage my image sizes better: EWWW Image Optimizer and Imsanity. I should probably note that these plugins are intended for self-hosted WordPress sites only.
EWWW Image Optimizer
EWWW Image Optimizer reduce file sizes for images and then replaces the larger image with the smaller-sized image. A pretty straightforward utility.
The first things you notice on the download site are the reviews:
That’s a pretty good sample size and great feedback. So I preceded to download and test the plugin.
It’s a pretty straightforward download. I then ran a check with the P3 Plugin Performance Profiler, and (ugh) this plugin adds .01 seconds to the load time of my site. That may not seem like a lot, but it makes it the third most onerous plugin on my site. Because of this, I’m going to test their pay-to-play cloud service…. which may have tipped my hand about how I feel about the utility of the plugin.
This works really well to do what it is intended to do. Each optimized image in the Media Library gives you feedback about how much it was reduced and how big the image is:
I had issues using the bulk uploader, though. From what I read, it’s not a problem with the plug-in itself but with the server timing out on larger files. So, my end goal of optimizing all of my images has not been attained, but now every image that I upload is automagically optimized.
There is also a neat feature where the plugin will look for images outside of the Image Library to optimize. It didn’t work on my site (probably because of the weird Voodoo of Thesis and Themedy), but for some sites I would image that could be quite helpful for achieving more speed.
Imsanity performs a slightly different function than EWWW, so the two plugins aren’t redundant. Imsanity “automatically resizes huge image uploads.” For me, the huge uploads in question are republished inforgraphics. These have a tendency to be too large for EWWW to optimize, so I end up with a behemoth image slowing the upload down.
Great sample size and feedback for Imsanity as well:
Imsanity isn’t as intuitive as EWWW, but when you install the plugin there is a tab under settings where you make adjustments to the maximum size of the scaling.
Imsanity adds about 25% of the load time that EWWW does (.0027 seconds according to P3), but does less. Imsanity scaled photos still need to be size-optimized by EWWW.
For very specific purposes Imsanity is quite appropriate, although EWWW is the workhorse plugin that will keep your images small and your speed up.
Two other plugins that I find intriguing are Hammy, which creates multiple smaller versions of images and “automatically provides them with the most appropriate image,” and PB Responsive Images, which “automatically reformats all images in the post content into a format similar to the (responsive) picture tag.” Both of these seem theoretically great, but don’t have a huge sample size of feedback describing their effectiveness.
If you use something else or have some experience with these, but leave a comment and share.