Are those big photos slowing down your website?
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Did you know that 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load? Just like Jerry Seinfeld and his friends at the Chinese restaurant, if they can’t get what they want when they want it, they’re going to take their business elsewhere.
You know what else? Page speed is one of the factors that influences how your site appears in the search engines. Google’s algorithm factors in user experience as well as the value of your content. So, there’s a bunch more people who won’t even discover your website.
In other words, if your website is slow, you risk losing a LOT of potential business.
Why image optimization is important
Although large photos add visual appeal and help to engage visitors, you shouldn’t just upload them like there’s no tomorrow. When it comes to photos on your website, size matters!
Uploading images that are larger than the version that appears on your visitors’ screens will slow down page load time.
Nobody likes a slow website – not potential clients, and not Google. That’s why it’s so important to make sure your image files aren’t any larger than necessary.
How to resize your images before you upload them
Resizing your images in WordPress only affects the display; it doesn’t make the file any smaller. That’s why it’s important to resize them before you upload them to your website.
The first step is to determine the best dimensions to use on your website. Ask your web designer if you’re not sure.
Next, use your preferred photo editing app to set your photo’s height and width to those dimensions so your visitors don’t have to wait for the full-size version to load.
There are probably hundreds of apps to choose from, including free, single payment or subscription; mobile apps, web apps and desktop software. Use whichever one you like, as long as it allows you to save the file as web-optimized. This will result in a much smaller file and faster load time, so it’s a very important step.
For a quick and easy way to do this, I like Reduce Images. It’s a free online app that lets you upload an image, set the desired dimensions and file format, and simply click on a button to resize it in seconds.
If the file is over 100 KB, consider reducing the size or quality a bit to see if you can bring it down.
When you’re saving those edited photos, be sure to give them a name that explains what the image is about. If the file name is IMG_2544, Google has no way of knowing what it represents. If it’s a photo of a home office, name it home-office to increase the likelihood that your content will come up when someone searches on that term. This practice also makes it much easier to find photos in your Media Library when you want to use them again.
Image optimization after uploading
But what if you’ve already uploaded a few – or a lot – of really large photos? I recently discovered that two of my clients had done just that, and it was slowing their websites down to a crawl.
The good news is that there are image optimization plugins for WordPress that will compress your files so they take up less space and help your website load more quickly. This can speed up your site even if you did resize the photos before uploading!
I’ve tried Imagify, Smush, EWWW Image Optimizer, and maybe one or two others, and they all do a decent job. A problem with some of them is that they can’t handle files that are super large – and those are the ones that are slowing your site down the most.
Lately, I tried Smush Pro and discovered that it can optimize images up to 32MB. I’m not sure I’ve even seen a photo that big! It can also do a lot of things the other plugins can’t (as far as I know) like:
- Scale images to the correct dimensions upon upload
- Compress images that are stored outside your media library
- Convert PNGs to JPEG, as long as there isn’t a transparent background
I am really excited to include this premium plugin with all of my Website Care Plans at no extra charge. If you thought my Care Plans were just about updating your plugins, you’re missing out! Smush Pro is just one of the many other bonuses you will receive if you sign up.
Photo by PheelingsMedia / DepositPhotos
I eliminate stress for my clients by hosting, monitoring, and maintaining their WordPress sites so they don’t have to worry about security, downtime or performance issues. When I’m away from my desk, I enjoy reading, photography, cooking, watching movies, drinking tea, and spending time with my family.