“A picture is worth a thousand words.”
That axiom might have been true last century, but it’s way off in the digital age. Today pictures are worth so much more — especially on the web.
Images are the best way to tell your brand’s story online and an essential element of a well-designed website. The downside? They’re a large asset and can slow down your load times — a turnoff for visitors. Luckily, there are now several easy-to-use WordPress plugins that can help you optimize images for the web. To make your life easier, we asked WordPress core contributor and Bluehost developer Luke Cavanagh to test a long list of optimizers. After crunching numbers (and uploading a lot of images), he whittled it down to three great options and a handful of honorable mentions.
Imagify (4.8 out of 5 stars) dramatically reduces image files without losing quality, which makes your site load faster. The plugin gives you 25 MB for free each month (about 250 images). Paid plans start at $5 and can go all the way up to $70 per month, depending on your needs. “Imagify adds a screen to your dashboard where you can set the compression level for bulk optimization,” Cavanagh explains. “The ultra level will reduced your file size but keep the image quality the same.”
ImageRecycle (4.5 out of 5 stars) offers PDF optimization in addition to compressing JPGs, GIFs, and PNGs. This plugin gives you 100 MB of data as part of a 15-day trial. The good news: 100 MB should be enough to optimize all of the images on an average site. While ImageRecycle costs money (between $10 and $50 depending how many photos you’ll upload during the year), it backs up the expense with extra features, like dashboard functionality and email updates. “Another nice thing about ImageRecycle is it runs in the background, so it doesn’t effect anything else you might be doing on the site,” Cavanagh says. He estimates that optimizing a larger site would take 30 to 45 minutes.
EWWW Image Optimizer
EWWW Image Optimizer (4.5 out of 5 stars) automatically optimizes your images as you upload them to your site. While this plugin lacks the upgraded features of Imagify and ImageRecycle, this free option is a good entry-level optimizer for small business owners. “On the whole, it is a very solid option which produces good results at no cost,” Cavanagh adds.
- TinyPNG gives you 100 images a month using its free API key. TinyPNG works on JPG and PNG images.
- Optimus has a free option, but it only supports JPG and PNG images up to 100 KB in size. The business version costs $99 per year.
- Kraken will give you 100 MB of free image optimization. Kraken’s paid options can be purchased on a monthly or annual basis.
- WP Smush works on JPG, GIF, and PNG images. It supports files up to 1 MB in size. If you need to optimize larger files, you’ll have to upgrade to WP Smush Pro.
- ShortPixel gives you up to 100 images a month for free. The paid option plans are well priced, ranging from $5 to $30 per month.
- reSmush.it Image Optimizer supports JPG, GIF, and PNG images up to 5 MB in size.
Luke Cavanagh is a WordPress Core contributor and developer at Bluehost. Cavanagh, who hails from Maidstone, Kent, in the United Kingdom, is an avid “Doctor Who” fan, movie buff, and music specialist. He has extensive WordPress experience and currently resides in Utah.