Why is Image Optimization for WordPress a Big Deal?
In the WordPress Community, there’s always plenty of talk about image optimization and how images that aren't optimized hurt your site's load time. Right now, let's learn about how to optimize images for your WordPress site.
Did you know thirty-four percent of the world's websites use WordPress? At the time I'm updating this page. the latest release is WP Version 5.2.3 is here. Here's the thing... the way WordPress handles images could be better.
Even though WordPress keeps improving image handling with every new release, image optimization is not automatic. You've got to do it yourself.
There's no doubt images help get your point across with fewer words. You’ve heard it before; A picture is worth a thousand words. Pictures help you users by visually reinforcing the theme or point of your post.
The fact is people will not, for the most part; take the time to slog through a lot of text. You need images to get and keep their attention.
Look at Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube. Many more of the top 20 are image-heavy. I hope you’re convinced to add images to your posts and pages. I recommend putting a photo in every three hundred words or so.
All of us have experienced the frustration of a slow-loading website. While the site is attempting to load, we wonder if it’s our computer, our Internet connection, or something else. This is an experience like watching paint dry. Slow-loading websites can be penalized by Google Search.
Most people will leave a slow loading site after 5-8 seconds and never come back. With the technology advances today, we all expect websites to load quickly after clicking a link.
Up to 80% of the data on many pages is images. This will affect how long your site takes to load. Google also looks at load time because when a site is slow, the visitor’s experience is a bad one.
This article will help you create happy visitors to your fast-loading site because you used image optimization. It'll help Google like you too.
Follow the link to see if your site has a slow loading problem from an improperly configured WordPress installation.
Unless you have taken the appropriate steps, you might build a slow page. Trust me; do that and you won't have many visitors coming back to your site. When you think about how impatient people are today, it's good business to do all you can to make the best user experience possible.
You should already understand 60-70+ percent of your traffic is coming from mobile devices.
The use of responsive and adaptive design mandates image optimization so sites load quickly for your visitors. And now Google is promoting websites that are configured for AMP - Accelerated Mobile Pages.
When AMP is set up correctly, pages load nearly instantaneously. As this technology rolls out, visitors will come to expect instant loading pages on their mobile devices. There is a WordPress Plugin to make configuring AMP easier.
An image, photograph, article, music or original art is the intellectual property of the person who created it. The old copyright laws in the USA have given way to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Today, many people license their content under Creative Commons. Using these licenses is easier than trying to make sure all your T's are crossed and I's are dotted to comply with the image's license.
Another advantage is being able to use/find exactly the right license for your needs. Totally free, unrestricted pictures are clearly labeled Creative Commons Zero (CC0) or Public Domain. Other free images may need attribution and/or a link to the creator of the image.
Public Domain is the label for works where copyrights have expired or have been donated. These are generally older, pre-1923 images. There are some photographers who release their newer work into the Public Domain. There is also a way to release your work directly into the public domain via Creative Commons.
Here's an excellent, comprehensive resource for 'Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States' from Cornell University. They offer a PDF download if you'd like to keep the info handy.
Millions of Images Are Available for You To Use for Free
Important! Always make sure you're in compliance with the usage and attribution requirements for every photo you choose to use.
This is easy for most pictures because the license is clearly stated. But occasionally it can take a long time to vet an image. This happens a lot for people searching for photos with Google Images. You cannot just copy an image from Google (or Bing) and use it.
Google Images does have advanced search capabilities to help you find free pictures to use, especially on commercial sites. Often, though, the license is vague. You should decide if it's worth the time or the risk of copyright infringement and be certain if you can use the photo or not.
There are many free image sites where licenses are clearly stated. Use those instead and your searching will be easier.
The point here is there is no shortage of free photos for you to use on your website. The big stock image sites like Getty Images, Shutterstock, iStockPhoto, Dreamstime, Fotolia will be happy to sell you images at a price. Sure, they have some free images, but their best stuff... you'll have to pay for those.
That's how they feed their families and it's OK with me. Some of these pictures are simply outstanding and are worth the money. These large sites make it easy to search for an image by keyword, so you save time. Some will also have a search by color... very helpful.
There is a world of free photographs, videos, music, and other tools for designers on the Internet. These sites are a fantastic resource for people on a budget or who are just starting out. I'm OK with that too. We all have to start somewhere.
Here's the thing, though. Many free sites don't offer good search capabilities. The tags on the pictures are not as descriptive as they are on premium sites. Be prepared to spend some time finding just the right photo. If you have more time than money, it is possible to find pictures that are perfect for your project or post.
OK. Is That All I Have to Do to Optimize Images?
Well... almost. If you're loading the image into your media library, it's a good idea to reduce image file sizes even more. Doing so will improve performance a bit. I like the free plugin by WPMU DEV, WP Smush.
There are other plugins you might try too, especially if one doesn't play well with your theme. Check out ShortPixel Image Optimizer, EWWW (We use the excellent premium version of EWWW currently), or Kraken.io Image Optimizer. There are others. Simply search for them from a search engine or the WordPress Plugin Repository and try them out.
To recap Image Optimization...
- First, always resize the image to the size you need. WordPress by default keeps four copies: Original, Large, Medium, and Thumbnail.
- Second, Upload it to your WordPress Media Library. Don't forget to use ALT Tags and descriptions. Give the author their due.
- Finally, use compression to reduce the image file size some more.
- Use a Lazy Loading plugin so pictures will load as you need them.
Do image optimization this way and you're lightening the load for your WordPress site so images won't be keeping your site from loading as fast as possible.
Since October 1st, 2016, Rock Solid Info has curated The Largest Resource on the Internet for Public Domain and Free Photos - The Creative Commons Media Guide by Rock Solid Info
Bookmark the site so you'll always a resource for free stock photos.
Updated 2019.1006 | Originally published 2016.0914