3 WordPress Plugins for Decreasing Image Loading Times
One element that can affect the performance of your website the most is your images. More specifically, the higher the quality of your images, the longer they can take to load, especially if you have a media-heavy theme or design. This can cause a whole multitude of problems for your customers or visitors, including slow loading times, poor navigational performance, the inability to use various functions, such as a shopping cart, and much more.
Google now includes site performance in its search engine ranking algorithm, too. If your site is slow, it’s going to severely hamper your SEO ranking, which in turn means much less traffic. On the surface it might seem unbelievable that something so simple could cause so many problems. Yet, that’s exactly the case when it comes to the size of your images.
WordPress Plugins to the Rescue
Luckily for WordPress-powered sites, there are plenty of third-party plugins available that will decrease loading times by speeding up how images render on your site. The method in which decreased loading times are achieved depends on the individual plugin. If you’re looking to improve performance for your WordPress-powered site, then look no further than one, if not all, of the three plugins below.
The WP Smush.it plugin runs in the background after it’s been installed and automatically optimizes any new images you upload to your site. It does this by maintaining quality yet eliminating any excess features and elements that might balloon loading performance. Some of the elements it changes include stripping meta data from JPEGs, compressing images, converting various formats, and even removing unused colors from some indexed images. This plugin can help improve the performance of your site, especially if you use a lot of photos or image content.
You can also run any existing images through the plugin filter after the initial install. You can either sideload the plugin yourself through FTP, or you can download and install it right from your admin dashboard through the appropriate menu.
BJ Lazy Load
The BJ Lazy Load plugin works quite differently from the previous plugin. Instead of squashing images to make their load time quicker, this plugin actually prevents them from loading until the user scrolls far enough to see them. In other words, images, thumbnails, gravatar photos, and content iframes do not actually load until the user is viewing it in the window.
It also saves your bandwidth, because if a user does not scroll the whole way down a page before navigating elsewhere, all the images they didn’t see didn’t bother loading. This is especially useful on blogs, since posts and archive pages can often be quite long. In order to achieve all this, Lazy Load makes use of JQuery. It also optimizes images by scaling them down through responsive design, for various display resolutions.
Hammy works a little differently than the other plugins on this list, but make no mistake, it will definitely improve your site’s performance. Instead of optimizing images or altering them completely, it generates copies in many different sizes. That way, when a visitor navigates to your website, they are served up the appropriate size image for their particular device and screen resolution. More importantly, it allows media-heavy sites to load much faster on mobile devices by scaling images down, as higher resolution photos and images are pretty much overkill on mobile.
It’s designed to work with any theme, even third-party ones, and it makes use of the WordPress 3.5 image code.
If your goal is to make your WordPress site faster – and let’s be honest, couldn’t it always be a little faster? – these three WordPress plugins will be a great place to start. Do you swear by any other speed boosting plugins? Be sure to share them in the comments below!
Photo: Evan Leeson
Adrienne Erin is a freelance designer and avid writer. When she’s not glued to her computer, she can often be found whipping up a healthy dish or planning her next roadtrip. To see more of her work or get in touch, follow @adrienneerin on Twitter or visit her blog, Design Roast.