There are many variables when it comes to maximizing conversions through your website. We focus on domain names and content. Images and themes. Logos and buttons. But one of the biggest issues you may not have addressed is how those beautiful elements – especially those impressive images – can slow your load times dramatically. Slower load times are one of the big conversion killers, undoing all of your other efforts. This is why it’s imperative, if you want effective web design, to know how to smush images.
Otherwise known as, compressing your images. But what exactly does “image smushing” mean?
Understanding Image Compression
You’ve been online. You’ve visited websites that are laden with images, tapping your fingers impatiently as the site slowly resolves into legibility. While the images themselves are great, waiting ridiculous amounts of time for the page to fully load is beyond frustrating in our age of ultra-fast load times.
The problem isn’t the image. The problem on these pages is how long it takes the image to load. This is where image compression comes in. There are many plug-ins that will smush images (or compress images) for you on your website.
Tools like WordPress Smush will take your high-definition images, remove the redundant and wasteful elements, and optimize the image for the web. In short, smushing your image makes your image streamlined for the web. Optimized images equal faster load times.
The Art of Smushing Images
Desktop computers on a high-speed internet connection can handle images, even ultra-impressive high-resolution ones. But roughly half of all internet access is done through mobile devices over wireless internet. And those mobile connections aren’t nearly as reliable as the Ethernet cable plugged into your desktop.
If about half of all web traffic is mobile, the images on websites can easily cause frustration for half of your potential customers. With increasing mobile access, an increasing number of would-be buyers are looking for your website to load quickly. This means you need to optimize those images!
WP Smush: The WordPress Smush Plug-in
Smushing isn’t a new technique. The concept of optimizing images (and the requisite tools) for the internet has been around since 2008. The Yahoo Smush.it image optimization was one of the leaders in image compression for years, but when Yahoo decided to let smush.it go in 2015 there was a scramble to find the best new option for image compression.
WP Smush emerged as the new image compression leader. This WordPress smush plug-in is simple to use and convenient, which makes it a favorite. The WP Smush plug-in optimizes images without sacrificing quality while uploading them to your site through WordPress.
It also gives users an option to clean up older images by doing a “bulk smash”. This allows the WordPress smush plug-in to compress and optimize up to 50 images at a time. This makes it ideal for beginners who are working to clean up what’s come before and optimize what’s coming next.
Alternatives to the WordPress Smush Plug-in
There are alternatives to WP Plug-in that have their own features and potential advantages. One potential disadvantage of the standard version of WP Smush is that you lack control of the image size. This is a sacrifice you make to preserve quality while compressing in an easy-to-use format. (You have much greater control in the Pro version of WP Smush along with many other enhanced features).
Other WordPress smush plug-ins like EWWW Image Optimizer and Imsanity offer more control over the size of the final image, but at the expense of simplicity and image quality – they aren’t as easy to use and may not create the best results.
Starting With Smushing Images
While there are options to compress images outside of WordPress like Adobe Photoshop, it’s unrealistic for most website owners to work every image through Photoshop before putting it online. The simplest way for you to optimize images on the go, and clean up older images in bulk, is through a WordPress plug-in. And you will likely want the most streamlined and efficient plug-in available.
Installing WP Smush is as simple as downloading the plug-in to your existing WordPress site. You can find the image compression plug-in in the WordPress Plug-in Directory along with installation instructions. WP Smush is free for download. There is an enhanced version called WP Smush Pro with additional features including control over image size and resolution. It is available as a plug-in as well.
Do you have any comments about our article? How do you smush images? Do you have your own favorite tool? Or do you want to share your own experiences with WP Smush? We’d love to hear from you!