We’ve all been there. You click on a link to a site you want to browse through and it takes forever to load, largely due to the many large images on the site. It can be very frustrating and annoying, and this is the exact opposite of how you want visitors to your site to feel.
Visitors to your site don’t want to wait forever for your page to load. And trust us, they won’t. They’ll try to find whatever it is they’re looking for somewhere else. You can keep your load times short by learning how to optimize images for WordPress.
We’ve put together this simple guide to optimizing images for your WordPress site so that you can have a beautiful, fast-loading site, that encourages your site visitors to come back.
Why Image Optimization is Important
The importance of image optimization cannot be overstated. Studies have shown that if the images on your site fail to load within three seconds, the site visitor will move on to another site.
So optimizing your images is not only necessary for ensuring that your site looks great and loads fast, but to ensure that it gets used at all.
Using high-quality optimized images lets visitors know that your brand cares about quality. If they see professional quality in your web design, they will assume that this kind of care and attention to detail carries over to your content as well.
It’s not just about looking pretty, it’s about delivering a quality product to consumers that they can trust and rely on.
Two things contribute most to a photo’s loading speed: size and format. The size of a photo is expressed in different dimensions, and there are many standard sizes to choose from.
When choosing a photo size, it’s important to consider what you are using that image for. If you are using it in a standard slideshow, you may want to optimize it to be 2560 pixels wide, with an aspect ratio of 3:1.
Whatever the case may be, it is important that you don’t upload photos at a higher resolution than they need to be. This will bring down your loading speed and some older devices may not be able to load the site at all.
Choosing the Right Format
In web design, the two standard image formats are PNG, utilizing the .png extension, and JPEG, which uses the .jpg extension.
JPEGs are easier to upload as the compress the image into a smaller file. There is a slight dip in quality, but it is barely noticeable.
PNGs, on the other hand, have “lossless compression” which means the file size and image quality will not change at all. This extension is great to use for slideshows or any type of photo presentation on your site.
Which extension you use should depend on what you are utilizing the photos for. If you can afford a slight dip in quality so that you can have a smaller (and thus, faster) file, then you should absolutely go for JPEGs. But some designers may find that PNGs are better for their uses.
Plugins are great for web design because they will do most, if not all of the work we have been talking about for you. And WordPress has some great image optimization plugins available.
The Imsanity plugin, for example, has a wide range of features that you will find to be very useful as you optimize images for your WordPress site.
Imsanity allows you to set maximum dimensions for images and then it will optimize accordingly as you upload photos. It even works retroactively to resize larger photos on your site to your current maximum dimensions. It will also automatically convert images into JPEGs and you can scale for a maximum quality.
The Imsanity features are some of the best out there when it comes to optimization plugins and we know that you will have great-looking images using it.
Image Content Delivery Networks
Another way to optimize your images is with an image content delivery network (CDN). Image CDNs know automatically what the most efficient image quality is for a particular photo and they will optimize accordingly.
CDNs are great, dynamic tools that intuitively adapt to your needs as a web designer, and they are definitely worth looking into as an option for your image optimization.
SEO-Optimized Image Titles
When you upload a photo, you can change the file name, the title, and add alt text to it. These may seem like insignificant steps at first, but they can do wonders for your SEO.
If you change the file name to a keyword related to the image, search engines will be able to register it and include it in their algorithm. The same goes for image titles and alt text.
When you are crafting these words, you should take the same amount of care and consideration as you do when optimizing your content for SEO.
Now You Can Optimize Images For WordPress!
We hope that this guide has been helpful and informative for you as you continue to learn more about WordPress web design. Following these tips will help you to get your site looking and loading better than it ever has before.