If you want your blog to be a success, you need a website that loads fast. A quick-loading blog has happier visitors and it also helps you rank higher on Google. Nobody likes to type in an address and wait forever for the page to load. A page that loads painfully slow has a negative impact on the visitors. Time is of essence.
In fact, a quick-loading website is now more important than ever as Google plans to make page speed a big factor in its mobile index starting July 2018.
There are all kinds of ways to help load your website faster. But one of the most important things you can do is optimize your images.
As per Akamai, images make up 63% of an average website’s file size. Because they’re such a big part of your site, finding ways to reduce their size is going to make a big difference to your website’s loading time.
To help you optimize images on your WordPress site easily, I decided to share this ShortPixel review to show you how this plugin can easily optimize your site’s images.
In my tests, ShortPixel was able to shrink the size of my images by 70-80% without a noticeable drop in image quality.
And depending on how many images you need to optimize per month, you might not even need to pay anything to use ShortPixel.
Here’s How ShortPixel WordPress Plugin Helps You Optimize Your Images
ShortPixel is a popular WordPress image compression plugin.
That means you get all the benefits of image optimization without needing to spend any more time than preparing your blog posts.
Beyond that core feature, ShortPixel has a bunch of smaller features that give you more control over how the plugin optimizes your images.
First, ShortPixel has no file size restrictions and works with:
- PDF documents
It can also help you convert PNG to JPG for more size reduction, as well as the option to convert to WebP images for Google Chrome users.
ShortPixel also lets you choose the extent to which you want to compress your images. There are two main types of compression:
- Lossless: No loss in image quality but only a small reduction in file size.
- Lossy: A much larger reduction in file size, but does have a slight impact on image quality, hence the name lossy.
You can also automatically resize the actual dimensions of your images, which saves the effort of manually resizing images before uploading them.
Finally, there are three other features that I think are worth sharing:
- ShortPixel uses an API, therefore the image compression happens on ShortPixel’s servers, which saves you from wasting your own server’s resources.
- The plugin includes a button that lets you bulk optimize all the images in your WordPress media library, which is helpful if you’re adding ShortPixel to an existing blog.
- ShortPixel also lets you compare the compressed version of your image with the original to make sure there’s negligible drop in quality.
I’ll also show you how the plugin actually works and how you can use if to your advantage.
How To Set Up ShortPixel On Your WordPress Site
ShortPixel is a free WordPress plugin listed at WordPress.org. However, because it uses an API to allow your WordPress site to connect to ShortPixel’s servers, the installation process has a few added steps.
Step 1: Install and activate the ShortPixel plugin
To get started, install and activate the free ShortPixel plugin just like any other plugin at WordPress.org:
Step 2: Request your ShortPixel API key
Next, go to Settings → ShortPixel.
Enter your email in the Request an API Key box and click Request Key:
Once you do that, the page should reload and ShortPixel will automatically add your API key in the plugin’s settings:
You’ll also get an email with your API key, in case you need to use it on multiple sites. You can also register and create an account manually to get free API Key for ShortPixels.
Get ShortPixel API Key
How To Configure ShortPixel Settings
Once you add your API key, you should configure a few settings before you start using the plugin.
First, it’s important to choose your Compression type. This lets you tell ShortPixel how aggressively you want it to compress your images. Most of the time, you can use the default Lossy setting.
But if you’re displaying posts where quality is essential (like a photography blog), you might want to choose one of the less aggressive Glossy or Lossless options:
Below that, you can make some smaller choices:
- Also include thumbnails: Tells the plugin whether it should compress image thumbnails as well. This will use up your image quota faster (more on image quotas later). If possible, I recommend that you leave this setting enabled. But if you want to save money, you can consider disabling it.
- Image backup: When you check this box, the plugin will save the original, uncompressed image, as well as the optimized version. I recommend that you leave this setting enabled too, unless you have limited storage space at your host (this shouldn’t be a problem on hosts like Bluehost, which offers unlimited storage)
- Remove the EXIF tag of the image: When checked, the plugin will remove behind-the-scenes metadata from the image. I recommend that you leave this setting turned on.
- Resize large images: This setting lets you automatically resize the actual dimensions of the images that you upload. I recommend that you set it to at least 25% larger than the maximum image width displayed by your theme (this gives you a buffer in case you change WordPress themes later on).
For example, if your theme displays images with a maximum width of 800px, I recommend you enter at least 1000px for the maximum width. ShortPixel will give you directions to make sure you don’t make the values too low.
ShortPixel Advanced Settings
If you want to take advantage of some of ShortPixel’s more advanced (and optional) features, you can go to the Advanced tab.
Here, you can set up options to do things like:
- Convert PNG images to JPEG
- Use WebP images
- Optimize Retina images
- Automatically exclude certain images from being optimized
Again – these settings are entirely optional. But WebP images can be 25% smaller than other image types, so it’s nice to have access to these features.
How To Compress WordPress Images With ShortPixel Plugin
Once you finish configuring the plugin, ShortPixel will automatically start optimizing any new images that you upload to your media library.
If you want to bulk optimize older images on your site, you can go to Media → Bulk ShortPixel.
Then, click the Start Optimizing button to start compressing all the old images on your site:
You can also manually optimize individual images by going to your regular WordPress media library:
How Much Does ShortPixel Compress Images?
While ShortPixel is easy to use and offers a lot of helpful advanced settings, the truly important thing is how effective ShortPixel is at reducing the size of your images.
So, I’m going to run a quick test to give you an idea of how much ShortPixel can shrink your images’ file sizes by.
First, I’m going to upload a huge image. It has a starting file size of 1.33 MB with dimensions of 3264 x 2448 px (an iPhone picture).
After ShortPixel optimized the image, its new file size was just 184 KB, which is an 82.37% reduction.
Better yet, ShortPixel did this without any noticeable loss in quality:
Next, I’ll upload an image that starts off a bit smaller. Its original file size is 191 KB and its dimensions are 1920 x 1080.
After optimizing the plugin with ShortPixel, the new file size is just 31 KB, which means ShortPixel reduced its size by 71.85%. Again, it’s hard to notice any difference in quality:
How Much Does ShortPixel Cost?
ShortPixel lets you optimize 100 images per month for free with no file size restrictions.
If you need to optimize more than 100 images, you’ll need to use one of ShortPixel’s paid plans.
These paid plans start at $4.99 per month that enables you to optimize up to 5,000 images.
If you just need to bulk optimize a ton of old images, ShortPixel also has one-time plans that start at $9.99 for up to 10,000 images.
Given how well ShortPixel is able to compress images, I think this price is definitely fair, especially because most bloggers can probably use the free plan.
Final Thoughts On Using ShortPixel
Compressing your blog images is not an option but an important aspect of a faster-loading blog. A lot of users miss out on doing this which results in slow page loading complaints. Moreover, when you compress images, you also save your hosting bandwidth which is great for anyone using a metered Webhosting for hosting their blog. I have used/tested a lot of WordPress image compression plugins and also talked about those here. ShortPixels clearly stands out among all and is one of the top choices of ShoutMeLoud readers. After you install and configure ShortPixels plugin, everything is automated.
For occasional (hobby bloggers), 100 free images/month is a decent number. For serious bloggers, buying a monthly or even a one-time package is a good choice. The first time when I learnt about the image compression technology, I bought the one-time license and compressed all my images. The result was significant and something I recommend every WordPress blogger to try. My recommendation is to start by using their free plan and notice the image size after compression. You can also take note of page loading (if you can) along with the bandwidth saving.
Get your ShortPixels free API Key
You should also consider using a CDN along with image compression to further speed up your WordPress blog. I have been using CloudFlare for last two years and I’m very satisfied. You can read this tutorial on configuring Cloudflare for your WordPress blog. You should also check out ShoutMeLoud’s earlier guides on making your WordPress load faster.