In the old days, the internet was made up of page after page of plain text. Pictures were rare. Streaming videos were unheard of. If a sight was particularly fancy, it might have had some cheesy MIDI playing in the background.
Then, as internet speeds and display resolutions increased, those endless walls of text were augmented by all sorts of media.
But even with all the streaming hi-def video and audio populating the interwebs, few things are as effective as a simple still photograph.
There’s probably no better example of this than the photo app Instagram, which reached one billion active users in 2018.
A collection of great pictures is one of the best ways to make an engaging and beautiful website. But sometimes, those big, beautiful hi-res photos can cause massive slowdowns on your website, which can send users bouncing.
Luckily, there are a number of great WordPress image plugins that can keep your website running smooth. Here are a few of the best.
There are a number of plugins that reduce the file size of an image without sacrificing its quality. But none of them are as ubiquitous as Smush.it.
Smush.it is probably the most popular WordPress image plugin-and for good reason.
While many plugins require users to go through a number of configuration settings, Smush.it is ready to go without adjusting any settings.
Just install it on your site, and it will automatically compress images as you add them. It changes the file size of your images without changing the resolution, so your photos are just clear without requiring all that extra loading time.
You’ve probably already noticed that the website you build in your back end doesn’t always translate to users’ screens the way that you want it to.
This is especially true of photo size.
Everyone browses the internet at a resolution. Everyone’s computer monitors are slightly different shapes and sizes, which will cause your website to display differently.
Not to mention mobile users, which are taking up more and more internet traffic.
If your pictures stay the same size for every user, it can make your website difficult to navigate, cluttered, and plain ugly.
Hammy to the rescue. Hammy creates a number of versions of your photos, each in a different size. When a user accesses your site, Hammy automatically chooses the size best suited for their screen.
Smush.it is great for resizing photos as you upload them. But what about all the old photos you had before you added it to your website?
Imsanity has a bulk-resize feature that can resize images that you’ve already added to your website. If your website is facing slow loading times on older posts, this is a must-have tool.
Imsanity is easy to set up too, with only two settings: image quality and maximum image size.
Usually, when you open up a website, your browser loads everything on the page at once.
If you remember the heyday of MySpace, you’re all too aware of how much dozens of pieces of media can slow down a website.
But if a picture is on a page but not on your screen, does it matter how high-quality it is? Of course not.
Lazy Load is a WordPress image plugin that prevents off-screen images from loading. It saves precious bandwidth, allowing you to use large image files without sacrificing loading speed.
CW Image Optimizer
Building a website is a constant balancing act between image quality and loading speeds. At times, it might feel like you have to choose one or the other.
You upload large, hi-res photos but it slows your load times way down. You reduce the image sizes for faster loading time, but the pictures are blurry and pixeled.
CW Image Optimizer lets you have the best of both worlds. It allows you to reduce the file size of your images without sacrificing resolution. Like Imsanity, it features a bulk-edit feature so you can resize old photos in a breeze.
However, this plugin requires pretty careful setup. Especially if your website uses shared hosting.
EWWW Image Optimizer
If you want all the benefits of CW Image Optimizer but have a hard time sorting through all the technobabble in the backend, EWWW Image Optimizer is the right choice for you.
It operates much like CW Image Optimizer, but its author provides very clear, easy-to-follow instructions to get it set up.
Choosing the Right WordPress Image Plugin
With all of these plugins available, you might be wondering how you can make the right choice for your website. At the surface, it might not seem like there’s very much difference between them. But the nuance is very important.
Ask yourself how important photos are for your website.
If you’re mostly using photos to fill space or add value to text, a simple option without much set up like Smush.it will be more than enough to make your website load smoothly.
On the other hand, if your website relies heavily on pictures-such as an art portfolio or product catalog-then it pays to add a more heavy-duty plugin to your site.
But no matter which plugin you choose, anything that will boost your load times will go a long way toward building a better website and decreasing your bounce rates.
So whatever plugin you choose, just pick one.
Want More Website Advice?
A great WordPress image plugin can do wonders for load times. But there are a lot of other things that can be slowing down your website.
If you’ve installed one of these plugins and your website is still crawling, read this article for more tips about how to speed up a slow WordPress site.