If you have any interest in photography, you might be familiar with image compression. For the rest of us, image compression may seem confusing and technical. Well, for anybody with a website, image compression is important to study.
Imagine there was one simple trick that you could use to pump up the speed on your website. You would want to know what it is immediately. If you have faster loading times, you are going to have a better ranking. A better ranking in terms of SEO will then give you more visitors. More visitors means a healthy bottom line and more users for your products.
Best Compression for WordPress?
Later on in this article you can read more about what image compression is and why it’s important for your website. Are you wondering the best image compression plugins for WordPress are & which plugin will compress the best? We have done the research for you, here are the best image compression plugins available. All of them have a free and paid version.
- Asset Cleanup
We put together a list of the top three to look at.
We can recommend this image optimization first. They have a lot of great options and the system is simple to understand. Looking at the pricing, you can see how efficient this is for your business.
On the lowest tier, you will get auto compression. This means your images will automatically be updated and be ready to go live on the web. You won’t have to do anything to take advantage of better speeds on all the pages for your site.
There is also Lazy Load included with just the base tier. That means that images load only when they need to. It doesn’t make sense to load in all the content on a page if a visitor is just going to browse slowly before moving on to a different part of the site. The Lazy Load will only load content when it is in use.
Throw in the fact you also have Auto-Scale so all images look uniform and you have a great deal at just five dollars each month. Knowing you will have a faster site after you sign up, it is an easier decision to go with at the very least the first tier.
Pro and Developer Level
With the higher tiers, these are also an excellent deal. At only fifteen dollars each month, you are going to get a custom domain and a speed audit. Many people have experimented with compression on their own. If you are struggling, have the pros look everything over. They are going to be able to point out where you are losing speed and fix it quickly with their API and Auto-Compress features.
The experts with ShortPixel have a powerful algorithm that can promise up to 90% compression. That is coupled with the fact that you can also set up batches to speed up the workflow and you know you are going to see fast speeds. Not sure if the service is right for you? Do a quick audit.
ShortPixel makes it easy to see if your site needs help. Put in your URL and wait for them to tell you how you can improve your site load times and SEO ranking. This is an awesome deal and you can sign up for free right now. Check it out.
3. Asset Cleanup
Need a free option that is going to make your site fast? Asset Cleanup is the way to go. Head on over to their website and download this excellent plugin. The author worked hard to add as many features to the free version as possible and you can see they are constantly updating issues here and adding new abilities to what you can do.
This supports many different kinds of image formats. It will also shrink the CSS and JS files that you are using which means your scripts will run faster as well. Even your HTML will become smaller which gives added benefits if you are a developer looking for something specific in their code. Try this out today for huge results.
What is Image Compression?
Image compression does not have to be complicated. As long as you have a basic understanding of the plugins, you can have the software do all the heavy lifting.
To put in easy terms to understand, you compress an image when you make it smaller. Once the file size is lowered, you can load in images much faster. How can we lower the size of an image though? After all, the Mona Lisa would look much worse if it was missing the background or the border around the image.
When you compress your image, you group together parts of the picture. This could be based on color for example. The algorithm will scan for the color black and group pixels together based on a standard that equates to the color black when we look at it. Now if you can group together a large chunk of the file together, it makes it simple and easier to upload or download. Instead of many different parts of the pictures now, you have less pieces to think about.
Benefits of Compression
When you are grouping parts of the picture together based on certain criteria, you may also find the algorithm will remove parts of the image as well as it makes those groupings. Not every part of the image is needed if you can have a close approximation. You may lower the detail, but it is acceptable if the human eye can not detect a difference and the site loads faster. Looking at the advantages of compression, we have the following:
- You may have a high bounce rate if you never compress images. If your image heavy site loads slowly, visitors will bounce out of it and skip your site.
- Moving images around. If you ever need to backup your images and your site, it will take much longer when you have uncompressed images.
- It is easier to move elements on your website. Maybe a client wants to see a video or selection of images from your site. Moving things to a drive will be much harder if nothing has been shrunk down.
These are just a few reasons why you want to reduce the size of pictures you are working with. While it might seem like some of these things are small, it can add up big. When a client needs a site done quickly or a video has to be done in a hurry, compression may be your only option if you want to get things completed by a deadline.
Kinds of Compression
Is all compression the same? Does it always work the same way? The answer is no. Compression can differ and change. Let’s look at some of the more popular types.
With this type of compression, you will reduce the size of the image, but you will keep the same quality. If you have a DSLR camera, you may have already run into lossless compression and not realized it. A number of DSLR cameras will use a format for the images known as RAW. This keeps track of all the light data that was absorbed by the sensor. The file size with RAW will be large, but that is the trade off that you pay when having lossless images.
If you contrast a RAW file with a JPEG, the difference is huge. The JPEG files will download and upload faster and also fit on your drive in a more compact fashion, but the RAW files will have better quality. If you are going for a large print or a professional movie poster that will be blown up to a large degree, you will want to go with a form of compression that will shrink the size of the file while still leaving in enough detail to match the application.
Next, we want to take a look at lossy compression. As the name implies, something is lost from the picture, but you get an even smaller size. Grouping together parts of the photo based on criteria such as color will lower contrast and how sharp the image is. This makes sense. If you group together pixels based on a certain shade of black and combine them into one part of the file, you lose that gradient. There won’t be as many subtle shifts in color and form since the algorithm looks to homogenize together pixels it considers similar.
The advantages with lossy compression is that it will be much easier to manage your image files. You won’t be able to blow up the images to a huge size any more since the degraded quality will be detected, but you will be able to fit more images on a Solid State Drive or any other storage device. Your site will also load faster now and possibly give you an advantage over the competition.
Common Forms of Lossy
You may assume that as parts of the image are taken out, people will notice and complain. This is not accurate. When you browse sites on the web, many of the images are JPEG images which is a type of lossy compression. If you use the standard amount of compression few people will be able to notice the difference.
Another type of lossy compression you are probably familiar with is a GIF. We have all sent them to friends and family with a phone. A small animated loop can say a lot with just a second or two to run. Once again, when you are looking at a GIF image, you can still clearly see the level of detail is there. As long as you don’t use an extreme level of compression, you can save space on your drive and still get the desired result.