Website load times are more important than ever. Slow-loading pages can have a huge impact on your website in terms of speed, bandwidth and storage space. In today’s world, your website should load in no more than 4 seconds, otherwise you risk losing traffic. People are impatient and they won’t wait for your page to load. Google’s search algorithm also takes load times into account when ranking websites. In addition, images can eat a large amount of your web hosting account’s bandwidth and storage space.
There are some methods you can use to help keep your website images under control. This can help minimize the effects of the issues described above. Image optimizing is a big business these days, but there are some WordPress plugins available for free that do a rather nice job. My favorite is EWWW Image Optimizer, available in the WordPress Plugin Repository. This article will help you with the basics of keeping your images optimized using this great plugin.
EWWW Image Optimizer Settings
After installing the plugin, one of the first things you want to do is review the settings. To do this, click on Settings > EWWW Image Optimizer. For the purposes of this article, we are going to focus on the on-server optimization settings, so we won’t be visiting the Cloud Settings tab.
One of the features associated with most photos taken with a digital camera (or smartphone camera) is Exif data, also often referred to as meta data stored within the image files. In some cases, you may need this data and your website may even use it. The Exif data contains information such as geolocation, camera model, compression type, focal length, date, time, and much more. As you might imagine, this could actually use up quite a bit of space for each photo.
If you would like to have EWWW Image Optimizer automatically remove this metadata from all of your optimized images, check the “Remove metadata” checkbox under the Basic Settings tab. This is something that most users will probably want to do.
Here’s one of my favorite features of EWWW Image Optimizer. You can schedule your optimizations to occur in the background with a WordPress cron job. Don’t worry, it’s easier as it sounds. In the Advanced Settings tab, simply check the boxes for the following settings:
- Scheduled optimization
- Deferred optimization
- Disable automatic optimization
- Include Media Library folders
With these settings in place, EWWW Image Optimizer will automatically optimize images every hour or so. By deferring optimization during upload, you won’t have to wait for each image to be optimized as it is uploaded, since it will be done automatically in the background a little later. We also include the Media Library folders, so anything you upload to the Media Library, blog posts, pages, etc. will also be optimized.
There are many other settings, but we won’t cover those in this article. We are focusing on the most basic settings and those that will likely help us the most.
Now that we’ve gotten things setup, let’s optimize everything for the first time. From the WordPress admin area, go to Media > Bulk Optimize.
Optimize the Media Library
All you have to do is click the Start Optimizing button and EWWW Image Optimizer will go to work. Since this is the maiden voyage, it may take awhile, depending on how many images you have.
Optimize everything else
After the Media Library optimization process has completed, click the Scan and Optimize button. This will cause EWWW Image Optimizer to scan other folders relating to your theme and supported plugins.
That’s it! Sure, there’s a lot of other settings you can play with, but following the instructions above will give you some pretty impressive results.