This is a new year with my first blog post of the year and what better way to start off than with one of the most important ways to keep your site fast by optimizing your images.
Keeping your image file size down while still having a good looking image can be a challenge, but I am going to introduce to one of the best tools that I have ever used, its called Short Pixel.
Now I have tried other WordPress image optimization options, Smush, Optimus, and EWWW, just to name a few, but Short Pixel seems to be the best, in my opinion at reducing the image file size (in some images as much as 80%) without sacrificing the quality of the image.
Why is WordPress Image Optimization important?
What is WordPress image optimization? What this really means is how much the image is compressed to reduce the file size. When you take a picture, say, with your cell phone, that image size could be huge, maybe 20-to-50 megabytes in size or even larger. You definitely would not want to load this image on your website as it would most likely shut your site down.
This is where image optimization comes in. Now you can use some image editing software, like Photoshop, to reduce the file size, but often at image quality loss. This is where a tool like Short Pixel comes in and can reduce the files size as much as 80% without losing the quality of the image. So your image size could end up at 50KB, what a difference.
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Features of Short Pixel
Its features are impressive:
- Lossy, Lossless, and Glossy compression options. The glossy option is the best for photographers.
- It can save the original images in a separate folder. If you want, at any time you can restore the original image.
- It can resize the image to predefined width and height. If you don’t want, you can uncheck that option.
- Bulk image optimization will help you to compress all existing images.
- Quick installation process. You can use it within 10 minutes.
- It can compress JPEG, PNG, Retina images and PDF also.
- It can convert PNG to JPEG if you need.
- It can generate WebP versions of the images if you want.
- It automatically optimizes image while uploading to the media library.
- Supports unlimited websites. You can use single API Key on as many websites as you want. At present, I am using it on two websites.
ShortPixel is Free
The best part here is that it is free up to 100 images a month. Now this may be ok if you are just starting out and you don’t have that many images on your site, or you don’t add that many in one month, but most likely, you have a lot of images that need to be optimized, so a paid plan is the way to go.
And the paid plans are really reasonable. I purchased the one-time 10,000 image plan for $10 to optimize all the images on my two sites. I had over 6 thousand images, to initially do, and can keep using it until I reach the 10K, then I may opt back to the free plan.
Plans, Pricing & Discounts
Short Pixel has monthly plans and one-time purchase plans. I recommend the one-time plan to get started. You can get 12,000 image credits for $9.99. See the plans below:
One-time purchase plans
Compression Ratio and Image Quality after Compression
I noticed that Short Pixel compressed my images at around 80%. It could, however, depend on the image and the colors in the image. You will almost certainly get a high compression ratio and I did not find any quality difference.
Using Short Pixel
Short Pixel is very easy to use and it takes about 10 minutes to set up. First, you need to set up your account. Click on this ShortPixel link to go to their web page to set up your free account.
On the menu just click on the sign-up tab and enter your email. You will get an email with all the information you need to login to your new account and purchase credits.
After you get signed in to your account you should see a screen like the one below. You are automatically set up with the free plan but you change that here. Regardless of which plan you change to, you will still get the first 100 credits free.
This is where you pick your plan, whether you want to purchase a monthly plan or a one-time plan. (I recommend the one time to start). You can get free plan, for 100 images up to the $49 yearly plan where you get 120,000 credits per year.
Next, you will need to download the ShortPixel Image Optimizer plugin and enter your API information into the plugin. Once validated you are all set and you can start optimizing images.
Before you start optimizing images, you will need to update the settings in the plugin. You can download the plugin Shorpixel Image Optimizer from the plugins dashboard on your WordPress website. Once activated, you will see the ShortPixel menu will show up under the settings menu on your dashboard.
Click on this menu and it will take you to the plugin settings page.
You can see where you enter your API key and click on validate. Once validated to might want to change the default settings to your liking. I recommend you set the compression type as lossy. It will give you a good compression level without affecting the quality of the image.
For the other settings, I recommend you use the ones I selected in the image below.
Next, you want to go to the advanced tab and select these options:
- Optimize retina images
- Optimize PDF
- Optimize Media On Upload
The last option is important as this will allow the plugin to optimize the image at the time that you upload it to WordPress.
On the statistics tab, you will see that you don’t have to make any selections here, but this is where you will see information on the images you have optimized with Shortpixel. It tells you the average compression size, disk space saved and bandwidth saved, as well as, your plan and remaining credits.
And that’s it. The plugin is set up! You can click on the Save button to save all the changes you made, or you can click on Save and Go to Bulk Process and start optimizing all the images on your site. Be prepared, it could take a little bit, based on how many images you have to optimize, but you will see a progression bar which will let you know at what percentage of completion you are at.
Short Pixel is a Great Image Compression Tool
This is truly one of the most powerful, easiest-to-use WordPress image optimization plugins you will find anywhere. All of its powerful features are available for free, and small sites with fewer than 100 images/mo. can take full advantage.
The image compression you get is excellent, with almost no visible difference to the naked eye. And the plugin is flexible enough to let you tweak the amount of compression, or revert back if need be.
What I think sets this plugin apart from others is that it allows you to setup WebP versions of your images for free. I didn’t go into this in the article because it is not widely accepted by browsers yet, but this standard of an image is Google’s attempt to optimize the images further without quality loss and make web pages load even faster. More on this in coming articles.
ShortPixel is my go-to plugin for WordPress image optimization & compression.
Are you ready to sign up for Short Pixel? If not what image optimization tool are you using. I would love to hear about this in the comments below.
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