Here we go:
- Get your API key sent to your email address. Might as well get that ball rolling first.
- Next, download, upload, install and activate the plugin in the traditional way. Or, search for “short pixel” from your Add Plugins screen (Plugins >> Add New) to get it installed and activated.
- Now, go to the ShortPixel Settings screen (Settings >> ShorPixel)
- Paste in the API Key that came in your email, and click the Validate button.
- Now your configuration settings will be displayed. Currently, the defaults set by the plugin are: lossy compression type (rather than lossless), thumbnail optimization is turned on (good idea), original images are saved just in case, images are adjusted for mobile devices too (this involves a conversion related to colors), and metadata (or EXIF data more appropriately) is removed.
You can play with the settings if you don’t like the desired results. I realize I don’t get as many savings, but I generally choose the “lossless” option. Also, eventually I turn off backups because the plugin works and I trust the output.
At any rate, ShortPixel isn’t the only tool in town. Let’s have a peek at some of the other well-known, well-established tools. Although a great tool, I am going to skip WP Smush-it here. In the past, it felt like that was the only optimization tool around when Yahoo! owned it. Then it felt like overnight, we couldn’t access it in the same way as before, and to get the same feature set suddenly cost a bunch of money. I realize a lot has changed since then, but regardless, today I am going to showcase: ShortPixel, Kraken, and TinyPNG. Although I will be skipping them today, three other seemingly awesome tools for WP include Optimus, Imagify, and EWWW.
Top Image Optimization Plugins for WordPress
All of the following plugins are similar in that they:
- process images “in the cloud”
- can optimize images as they are being uploaded, as well as previously uploaded images
- can resize images (in terms of width and height) on-the-fly too
- will let you use the same paid account with multiple sites
ShortPixel Image Optimizer
I described ShortPixel in great detail above. From reading the description page in the WordPress plugin repository, I learn that their tool will optimize PDF files as well. They offer a free plan as well as paid plans. All plans have the same feature set, it’s just the number of images that can be processed that changes.
As of this writing, ShortPixel boasts 4.6 out of 5 stars, and has more than 20,000 active installs.
Kraken Image Optimizer
You can try the Kraken WordPress plugin for free. However, in order to use it beyond the 50 MB testing quota, you will be required to upgrade to a paid plan starting at $5 per month. Visit their website to see the full feature set.
With this plugin, I like that you get the choice on which EXIF data you would like to retain, if any. By default, none are selected.
Right now, Kraken has more than 10,000 active installs and, like ShortPixel, has an overall rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars.
TinyPNG: Compress JPEG & PNG images
Not a feature I realized that I would appreciate until reading about it, but TinyPNG offers you the ability to choose which thumbnails you want to optimize. Since your theme, and possibly other plugins, register several thumbnails with WordPress, it could be taking a lot of “credits” (or however you are charged by a given image optimization plugin), unnecessarily if you don’t need all the thumbnails. But, how do you decide which ones to optimize? I don’t know, but I like having the option of choosing which thumbnails that I want to auto-process either way.
TinyPNG is a utility that some other tools use within their proprietary approach to image optimization. That’s cool.
This tool has been around for quite awhile, and has more than 40,000 active installs of the WordPress plugin.
I uploaded an image with the dimensions of 1920 x 1280, but am showing the 320 x 213 optimized thumbnails below. For the size, I am making reference to the full sized optimized image. Keep in mind too, that, how the image looks is more important than the size reduction (probably). Also, I only tested one image of one type, so it’s not at all an exhaustive test. The feature set, price, and ease of use are all important as well. With that said, I like them all for one reason or another. With a few feature tweaks, though and even better pricing, ShortPixel will reign supreme.
Original Image (498 KB):
WP Default Optimized (498 KB, no change in size):
ShortPixel Optimized (174 KB):
Kraken Optimized (381 KB):
TinyPNG Optimized (180 KB):
Just like you can probably hand-optimize your website slightly more optimally than when auto-optimizing, I feel the same is probably true with image optimization. However, getting 90% or more of the way there in an automated way… I’m a fan. Set it and forget it, I say. #SpeedUpTheWeb