Aside from it being good practice to load your site as quickly as possible to lower your bounce rate, a slow-loading site may also hinder your search engine rankings. That’s why it’s extremely important to put these good practices into action when building and maintaining your site to make your site as quick as possible (you might be interested in tracking your page load speed).
One of the largest bandwidth components of sites these days is images. And too often, people upload the largest possible image they can and just display the size they need to, not thinking about why it might be a good idea to make the image fit the use. On top of that, you can also work with images that have been saved at very high qualities, when really, medium quality photos tend to do the job for the web. That could save you a lot of bandwidth and a lot of seconds off your load time.
Let me introduce smush.it. Smush.it is a free service that is provided by Yahoo!. Like Google, Yahoo! have a vested interest in making the internet faster; the faster the internet is, the more pageviews that are logged, the more ads that are served and the more advertising revenue that they see.
Smush.it uses a variety of technologies (such as ImageMagick, pngcrush and jpegtran) to squish every last unnecessary byte out of your images. These technologies are completely lossless, meaning that you lose no image quality at all; the picture will look the same when you download it as when you uploaded it.
How to use it in WordPress
If you just want to use smush.it on a single picture, you can always head over to the website, upload a picture and download the resultant image. Job done.
However, the chances are that you’ll want to use it on every single image you’ve ever uploaded and every one that you upload in future. And that’s where the WP Smush.it plugin comes in.
Once you install this plugin, you can go to your Media Library and smush every image that you’ve uploaded to date. Unfortunately, there is no batch tool to smush all the images in one go; you’ll have to go through one by one and do it. It’s just a one-time exercise though and it’s worth the small amount of time it’ll take.
So long as you leave the plugin installed and activated, every time you upload a picture, it will automatically send it to smush.it and bring back the optimised image. It does this when the image says it is “Crunching…”, so don’t cancel the operation if it appears to hang, because there is no notice that WordPress is actually optimising your image through smush.it.
Now your site should be loading just a little bit quicker, and you can even check by measuring your site load speed.
Have you seen a noticeable change in your loading speed? Does your data in Google Analytics show a noticeable difference?