Images play a critical role for websites. They provide breathing space for long articles, draw the attention of your visitors, and also help you present your content in an attractive styling.
Having all these benefits, you may plan to include several images to each of your blog posts. While that is a solid strategy, there is one drawback to it. Adding multiple images will increase the loading speed of your pages. This may irritate the visitor and can have an adverse impact on your SEO results.
Luckily, there are some proven ways to use images without having a significant impact on the user experience. These are called image optimization techniques. In today’s post, I am going to introduce you to the five best image optimization techniques for WordPress.
Are you ready? Let’s get started.
Use the Proper Dimension
Using the correct dimensions is one of the best ways to optimize images. Most beginners make the mistake of using improper dimensions, which leads to heavier pages and increased page loading time.
For instance, let’s imagine you need a 200 X 200 image for a client testimonial. The client sends you a 5MP headshot, and you use it without any resizing. In this case, the browser will load the full resolution image at first, and then resize it to show in the smaller size.
If you do that, you are wasting the bandwidth for both the visitor and your website. No other image optimization technique will work when you are using images in improper dimensions.
Therefore, the first step in optimizing images is to use images in the proper dimension. You can do this by using any regular image editor. Just find out what resolution you need, resize the image to that resolution, and use that image on your website.
Use the Right Image Format
Choosing the right image format is another important factor in image optimization. While there are different image formats available, only three formats are widely used on websites – jpeg, png, and gif.
Among these, jpeg is the best choice for photographs and images that contain a lot of colors. This format allows you to choose the compression level to reduce the file size.
On the other hand, png is most suitable for screenshots, icons, logos, and other website elements. This format uses loseless compression technique, which results in greater image quality but higher file size too.
Lastly, gif is another common format that is great for images containing only a few colors. Gif is also a popular format for creating animated files.
Use a Lazy Loading Plugin
Lazy loading is an innovative technique to reduce the loading time of media-heavy pages and to enhance the user experience. When using this technique, the website will only load the images that are visible in the browser viewport. The other images will load as the visitor scrolls to those sections. Since lazy loading prevents all images from loading at once, the page will load faster.
There are several lazy loading plugins for WordPress. Among these, Lazy Load is a very popular choice among regular users. The plugin will show a placeholder image in place of the actual images and load the images only when they are visible in the browser.
BJ Lazy Load is another widely used lazy loading plugin for WordPress. This plugin hides all the images inside the content along with the gravatar, thumbnail, and iframe images. The actual image will load as the visitor scroll to the relevant section. The multi-lingual plugin can also be used to lazy load videos.
Use a CDN Service
Using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) is an essential step in the whole website optimization, including image optimization as well. CDN services have servers in multiple locations throughout the world. As a result, they can deliver images from the nearest location to the visitor, thereby enhancing the website loading speed.
CDN is especially useful when you have a large website with a constant flow of visitors from all over the world. If you can afford it, MaxCDN offers one of the best CDN services out there. And in case you are looking for free solutions, CloudFlare is a popular choice among the regular website owners.
Use Image Optimization Tools
Now that you know about using images in the correct size, format, applying lazy loading, and utilizing CDN services, the next step is to use the dedicated image optimization tools available for website owners. As there are several tools available, let me go through these one by one.
Save for Web: This infamous option is available in Adobe Photoshop. This feature will strip the unnecessary data and reduce the quality a bit to achieve the lowest possible file size for your image. You can access this option by going to File > Save for Web, or hitting Control/Cmd + Alt + Shift + S on your keyboard.
TinyPNG: As you can guess from the name, this is a dedicated online tool for compressing your image files. Despite the name, TinyPNG allows you to compress both png and jpeg files. The tool uses smart lossy compression techniques to reduce the file size while keeping the quality almost the same as the original image. You can upload and compress 20 files at once. The premium version enables you to upload more images in larger sizes.
WordPress Plugins: Along with the tools mentioned above, there are some dedicated image optimization plugins for WordPress. Among these, Smush Image Compression and Optimization is a very popular choice. This award-winning plugin will strip the hidden unnecessary information and reduce the file size while keeping the best quality.
EWWW Image Optimizer is another widely used image optimization plugin. You can use this plugin to optimize new images along with the already uploaded ones and convert images to other formats.
Modern websites use a lot of images. There are countless benefits of using interesting, relevant images. This article introduced you to the best ways to optimize those images so that your visitors enjoy a great browsing experience.