Lighter pages is one of the major website speed factors. And more often than not, major improvements can be made by simply optimizing images. Doing it manually can be a dreadful task if you have a lot of images so naturally there are tools to help you.
There's a number of plugins that will optimize your images for you and people often ask me which is the best. My usual answer is - I've never used any personally. Yet. . . more and more often, when working on clients' sites, I see ShortPixel. It's a newer plugin, been around for about 3 years or so, and several prominent designers and photographers I work with swear by it.
I'm not affiliated with the plugin in any way but happened to run into Alex Florescu of ShortPixel on the interwebs and asked him to explain how it works for the benefit of my members and readers.
Here's what he had to say:
ShortPixel offers a broad range of options and surprises. The plugin works well with the gallery and sliders plugins like NextGen, and it can also optimize images outside the Media Library. This is good news for those with an unusual WP media folders structure.
There are three levels of optimization: Lossless, Lossy, and Glossy, You heard about first two, but the latter is new. Basically, Glossy is the ShortPixel answer to the photographers' needs. They want the best picture quality and care less about speed measuring tools.
In fact, you can check all these compression methods on our site https://shortpixel.com/online-image-compression. It's free, and it allows you to reduce up to 50 images at once. ShortPixel online compressor uses the same algorithms like the plugin, and it compresses JPEG, PNG, GIF and PDF files.
ShortPixel plugin can also resize your original images. If you have big large files, this option will save you a lot of hosting space.
WebP images get more and more popular, and ShortPixel offers free WebP conversion for the images optimized with ShortPixel. Just remember to check this option in the plugin settings before starting the image optimization process.
How ShortPixel plugin works:
The installation process is straight forward like for the most of the WP repository plugins. Go to the Plugins area of your WP dashboard, search for ShortPixel and install it.
In order to be functional, the plugin needs an API key. Getting one is easy, just sign-up for a free account. After validating the key, the plugin interface is accessible. It looks simple and easy to use.
ShortPixel optimizes images in the cloud. Basically, the plugin copies the images on ShortPixel servers, reduces them using proven algorithms, and replaces your original images with their compressed versions. By default, the image backup function is active, so your images are totally safe.
The free plan comes with 100 free images per month. It could be enough for a small blog with a few posts, but if you need more image optimization credits ShortPixel has affordable paid plans.
Thank you Alex!
I hope this was helpful and enlightening. And, if your site could use some serious speed and you're not yet a member, my WordPress Speed Secrets video tutorial will help you.