A fast loading website has many benefits for both you as a website owner and your visitors. Slow site speeds have been shown to not only hamper the user experience, resulting in reduced conversion rates and higher bounce rates, but it can also negatively affect the position of your website in the search engines results pages.
While upgrading to a high-performance web host is a quick and effective way to improve website loading times, there’s also a free plugin you can install on your WordPress website which can help your pages load faster.
That plugin is Smush, and in this post, we’ll be discussing how it can help you effortlessly optimize your images to avoid frustrating your visitors with slow loading content.
Why Use Smush to Automatically Optimize Your Images
As mentioned, Smush is a free image compression and optimization plugin for WordPress. This plugin is maintained by the good folks over at WPMU DEV and is loaded with nifty features, including lossless compression, bulk smush (not to be confused with ‘Hulk smash’), incorrect size image detection, and automated optimization, to name a few.
All of these features combine to help web pages that load faster, without any reduction in image quality – the only thing you have to do is install the free plugin.
Now each time you add a new image to the WordPress media library, it will automatically run through the Smush service, reducing the file size – without any visible loss in image quality. One of the other great things about this plugin is that it can optimize all of the existing images on your site without you having to re-upload them (limit of 50 without a WPMU DEV subscription.)
How to Use Smush on Your Website
As the Smush plugin is free to use, it can be installed on your site directly from the WordPress plugin directory
To do so, log into your site’s admin area and then navigate to Plugins > Add New using the sidebar menu.
From the Add Plugins screen, enter ‘smush’ in the search field and then install the first item listed in the results.
Once the plugin has been installed and activated it will run in the background and whenever a new image file is added to your website, it will be optimized to load as fast as possible, without any loss in quality.
The settings for the plugin can be found in the Smush link in the main menu of the WordPress admin dashboard.
From there, you have the following options:
- Bulk Smush: Optimization of existing images in your media library (limit 50 on the free version)
- Directory Smush: Optimizing images outside of your uploads directory
- Integrations: Integrates with Gutenberg, Amazon S3 and photo galleries
- CDN: A premium feature that utilizes WPMU DEV’s CDN for multi-pass lossy compression and auto resize features
- Lazyload: This feature defers the loading of below the fold imagery until the page has loaded, adjustable by page/image type.
- Settings: General plugin settings
By using this free plugin and image optimization service, you can ensure that all existing and future images that you use on your website will load as fast as possible.
This will not only help your website load faster, but can also help reduce the amount of bandwidth your site uses and how much data your visitors need to transfer in order to view your content.
Note that there are more advanced features that require a WPMU DEV subscription, like bulk updating more than 50 images, updating the original image on the server, and more.
Loving Smush? Have an alternative to suggest? Comment below.