I constantly re-evaluate the WordPress plugins I use to ensure that my blog is running smoothly and there are no resource-hogging plugins running. I covered this in my earlier post about plugins slowing down a blog.
So yes, I'm a plugin junkie and I love great WordPress plugins, but I'm more and less settled for the list of essential WordPress plugins I have now. But every now and then such a great plugin comes up that I just have to try and this time, it stick and I already added it to all my blogs..
Some of the best plugins in my mind have been created by Joost de Valk, who has created many great plugins, with over 1 million downloads in total. These plugins include such masterpieces like Google Analytics for WordPress and Sociable.
But this post isn't about Joost's plugins, but the SmushIt for WordPress -post he wrote to his blog at Yoast.com, a post about an automatic image optimization plugin called WP Smush.it, written by Alex Dunae. As mentioned, this plugin quickly made it to my list of essential plugins for WordPress, and I think you should install it too, if you use images on your blog (and you do, right?)
What is Smush.it?
Performance just got a little bit easier. Optimizing images by hand is time consuming and painful. Smush it does it for you. (Smush.it)
- stripping meta data from JPEGs
- optimizing JPEG compression
- converting certain GIFs to indexed PNGs
- stripping the un-used colours from indexed images
Smush.it offers an API that performs these optimizations (except for stripping JPEG meta data) automatically. (WP Smush.it -plugin page)
What is WP Smush.it?
WP Smush.it the plugin integrates the Smush.it image optimization with WordPress.
Every image you add to a page or post will be automatically run through Smush.it behind the scenes. You don’t have to do anything different. This is the easiest way to optimize one part of your website, the images.
In short, you should make the images you display on your blog or anywhere in the web, as small as possible, without reducing the quality. It is possible to compress the images further, reducing the size even more, but at this point you can lose some quality, and usually you don't want that. And this is all you have to know about, as the WP Smush.it -plugin does all the job for you, so you don't have to patch process your images on your computer and then (re-)upload them back to your blog.
How to use WP Smush.it -plugin
After installing the plugin (by going to Plugins >> add new >> search "smush.it" >> install), go to the Media gallery, by clicking the Media-tab on the sidebar (if you're using 2.7+ WP). You'll see a new column there for WP Smush.it - click on the Smush It! link and the image is automatically optimized (reducing it's size to the smallest possible without losing the quality).
Go through all your uploaded images like this and it's very likely you'll save a lot of KBs on the process, making your blog run just a little bit smoother. After you've done this once, the plugin automatically "smushes" the images you upload to the Media gallery, so you don't have to *use* it after this.
Reducing the size of the uploaded images
The images I've uploaded reduced 15% in size, totalling in over 100 KBs. And I don't even have that many images uploaded on my blog. If those images would be loaded a thousand times a day (which they are not, as they are all around the site on individual posts, not all getting thousand hits a day, but anyway..), we're talking about hundred megabytes here - How long does it take to download 100 megabyte? Exactly! That is how long the visitors are "standing on line" and waiting to get in my site,until now, thanks to this wonderful plugin..
And the best part is that I don't have to do anything from now on but upload normally and WP Smush.it does all the work in the background and reduces the size of the uploaded images automatically.
Just like Joost at Yoast.com, I'm making WP Smush.it a great addition to my list of of plugins I install every time I set up a new WP blog, right there with Google XML Sitemaps (read How To Add a XML Sitemap for your blog if you're interested in that) and All in One SEO Pack. Definitely an essential WordPress plugin.
Install Smush.it now, work through your uploaded images and you can forget it and it'll help your blogs performance a great deal on the pages those images a loaded on.
WordPress Theme Optimization Tip!
Consider going through and compressing all the images in your blog with Smush.it, the web service. Or use a free tool like RIOT. It is possible that the theme designer has been smart and compressed the images already, but it is possible that you squeeze some percentages out of them.
Each 0,01% counts, because the images on your theme are loaded every time someone comes into your blog, and making your blog load up faster might keep the impatient visitor on your blog, instead of hitting back button because of long load time. For info on evaluating the performance of your blog, read this earlier post of mine: Blog Performance Evaluation.
Right now, I feel like smushing some more images, how about you? Optimize images you already have in your blog and use Smush.it to optimize all the ones you upload in the future, automatically.