Image Optimization

EWWW Image OptimizerEWWW Image Optimizer Plugin

In my ongoing efforts to improve the load speed of my WordPress blog, I’ve turned my efforts to image optimization. I like to include photos here on my blog, and loading photos slows down page load speed. Therefore, image optimization: shrinking the images down to the smallest file size possible without losing too much visual quality.

When I first began this blog 10 years ago, most people were on dial up, which even caused pages without any pictures at all to load painfully slowly. To keep page load times as low as possible, I used tiny little thumbnails to represent images. If the user really wanted to wait to see the image, s/he could click the thumbnail and a larger version of the photo would load.

Well, now that most people have fairly fast access to the world wide web, I’ve grown a bit sloppy about how I use images. I like large images. Even my thumbnails are large. And I generally do not reduce the file size of my images because doing so can reduce visual quality.

I recently discovered EWWW Image Optimizer, a WordPress plugin that does a nice job of reducing file size with minimal or no impact on the visual quality of the image. Additionally, this plugin goes through all of the images you have uploaded to your blog and optimizes them. I also like the fact that it tells you how much it reduced the image file size in both percentage and actual bytes or kilobytes.

Additionally, the EWWW Image Optimizer plugin also optimizes the images used by your WordPress theme to display your page. I was surprised at how many images that actually is.

And finally, the plugin will automatically optimize every future image I upload in every post or page! This is really helpful because, while I care about image optimization, I’m simply not going to take the time to optimize every photo I choose to use here on my site. That would require too many extra steps.

When you have tens of thousands of images on your site, like I do here, this data savings adds up quickly! And data savings transfers into faster page displays! So, Tim likes the EWWW Image Optimizer plugin! It seemed to work like a charm.

BJ Lazy LoadBJ Lazy Load Plugin

Another handy plugin I’ve discovered is Bjørn Johansen’s Lazy Load. At first, I had no idea what this plugin did. But, now that I understand it, it really rocks! If your browser (on whatever device you’re using) hides part of my web page, the images on the part you don’t yet see have not yet loaded into your browser. When you scroll down to see the hidden part of the page, the images for that part load. Again, saving every bit of load time possible because it all adds up!

SEO Friendly ImagesSEO Friendly Images Plugin

I’ve been fairly good in recent history at properly naming all of my photos and adding a meaningful ATL tag and descriptor text. Apparently Google places a lot of importance on these little bits of information when indexing web content. But, by “in recent history,”  I’m referring to the last year or two. Prior to that, I never paid any attention to those fields when uploading media content. Filling in that information was just extra time I didn’t see a need to invest. But now, I’ve had a change of heart.

The SEO Friendly Images Plugin assists with this onerous little task. It automatically adds these tags to the photos when you upload a media file. You decide how you want the plugin to assist you, and then you forget about it. Gotta love that!

Media File RenamerMedia File Renamer Plugin

I really wanted to love this plugin. Far too often I’m in a hurry and just upload a photo named something like IMG-8724.jpg to a post. When I look on the server, I’ve got zillions of photos with this and similar types of naming conventions. Meaningless. I have no idea what the photo is unless I see it the context of the post in which it was uploaded. Having a meaningful file name would be helpful.

Media File Renamer promised to be that for me. It would go through the media files in the database and recommend a file name based on the title I assigned to the image. Remember, I’ve been fairly decent about assigning meaningful titles to my pictures, just not meaningful file names. The plugin would then update the links to the newly named file in the posts that use the photo.

I tested it. It worked great. I then set out to rename hundreds of files based on their titles. Oh dear god! Sometimes the plugin updated the links, many times it did not. When the link wasn’t updated the photo no longer appeared in the posts in which they were uploaded. What a mess!

I do not recommend this plugin. It just didn’t work for me. I had to re-upload my database backup to undo everything the plugin had done! Thank goodness I had the backup; or, I would have had to spend days and days going through each individual post all the way back to the beginning of this year to hand correct each messed up image link!

I wish the plugin worked. It’s a brilliant idea!