Nobody likes waiting, especially website visitors on a slow-loading website. It’s 2019, and people shouldn’t be forced to suffer when trying to find information or make purchases. If they don’t get what they want when they want it, they’ll be more likely to bounce than convert (a.k.a. leave your website without purchasing, reading or doing what you want them to). It’s about time you fix that with a WordPress image optimization plugin.

If your website relies heavily on images, a quick fix to speed up your website and save some storage space at the same time is to start optimizing your images with one of the plugins we’ll be taking a look at in this post…


Still not convinced? Here’s the TL;DR of why you need a WordPress image optimization plugin:

💰Serving images of lower file sizes can reduce your website’s bandwidth usage which (in some cases, depending on your hosting company) can result in a cheaper hosting bill at the end of the month.

🚀Faster page loading times mean fewer visitors bounce before interacting with your content or purchasing your products/services.

🕵️‍♂️ Don’t give search engines a good reason to hate your website and make it rank lower among other similar websites.


Alright – if that wasn’t enough to convince you, then I don’t know what will, but you’re the one who’s missing out, not us 😁

In this post, we’ll be comparing the 5 best WordPress image optimization plugins to help you decide which one you should be using on your website.


Introduction – The Rundown.

Right before we jump into our detailed analysis, here’s the rundown for those of you who don’t have time to stick around for the whole post.

ShortPixelOptiMoleImagifyWP SmushWP Compress
PricingFree or starting at $4.99/moFree or starting at $4.99/moFree or starting at $9.99/moFree or starting at $49/moFree or starting at $5/mo
Reduction~96%~80%~81%~94%~95%

Check out the 5 Best #WordPress Image Optimization Plugins you should be using on your website


In-Depth Comparison of the five best image optimization plugins

Our first comparison will be a results-based approach.

You may think that most plugins will result in the same (or very similar) file size reductions, but let’s see if that’s really the case.

Compression can be either lossy or lossless. Lossless compression reduces file sizes by identifying and eliminating what is known as statistical redundancies – resulting in little to no loss of quality.

On the other hand, lossy compression reduces file sizes by removing both unnecessary information and also less important information – which, in some cases, results in a reduction in perceived image quality.

Some of these image optimization plugins actually provide automatic image resizing which is another method that can be used to reduce your image file size on top of actual compression.

Compression reduces the file size by removing any unnecessary image data, while resizing reduces the dimensions of the image that your website visitors will be served which inherently reduces the file size even further.

So, to make this a fair and effective comparison, we’re actually going to optimize the two images below with each of the plugins to see how they perform. I’m using the same original files to test each plugin, which I believe is a reasonable balance of stress testing the strength of these plugins while also using a file of a size typically uploaded to WordPress websites.


JPEG: Optimization Results Comparison

boat-original
The original image we used to conduct our tests.
Image Optimization PluginOriginal File SizeFile Size after OptimizationPercentage Reduction
ShortPixel4.3 MB119 KB~97%
OptiMole4.3 MB805 KB~80%
Imagify4.3 MB802 KB~81%
WP Smush4.3 MB262 KB~94%
WP Compress4.3 MB217 KB~95%

When we start taking an in-depth look at these plugins, we’re going to use the JPEG compression tests as the main point of comparison since it is the most common file format.

However, here’s a PNG comparison for those interested:

PNG: Optimization Results Comparison

The Best WordPress Image Optimization Plugins (2019) 1
The original image that we used in our PNG compression tests
Image Optimization PluginOriginal File SizeFile Size after OptimizationPercentage Reduction
ShortPixel8.2 MB417.21 KB~95%
OptiMole8.2 MB2.5 MB~70%
Imagify8.2 MB1.5 MB~82%
WP Smush8.2 MB1.2 MB~85%
WP Compress8.2 MB704 KB~91%

ShortPixel – Speed up your website.

The Best WordPress Image Optimization Plugins (2019) 2

ShortPixel can easily be considered the most popular and effective WordPress image optimization and compression plugin that is currently available.

Here are some of ShortPixel’s most notable features:

  • Supports both lossy and lossless compression.
  • Supports JPG, PNG, GIF & PDF files.
  • ShortPixel also works with Shopify (not just WordPress)
  • Restore the original image at any time.
  • Compress your entire WordPress Media Library in a single click.
  • Automatically compress new images on upload.
  • No file size limit.
  • Save and keep a backup of your original images in a separate folder.
  • Option to optimize all images (thumbnail images) or just the original image.
  • Choose whether to keep or remove the EXIF tag of the image.

As you might have already heard, Modula has a direct integration with ShortPixel which means that all Basic, Duo and Pro license holders get free access to their blazing fast content delivery network and on-the-fly image compression – read more about all that here.

ShortPixel: The Overall Experience

shortpixel-dashboard1

If you want to optimize the rest of the images in your WordPress media library or aren’t using Modula so don’t have access to our on-the-fly image optimization, you can do so using the ShortPixel plugin. The ShortPixel plugin is extremely user-friendly and gives you up to 100 free image optimizations per month with no cap on the file sizes of those images.

My overall experience with ShortPixel has been absolutely fantastic, I couldn’t really ask for more. And, as a team, we obviously love and endorse ShortPixel, which is why we’ve integrated ShortPixel image optimization and StackPath’s content delivery network into an extension for Modula Pro – our awesome WordPress gallery plugin. It might be worth noting that there are actually also other plugins, such as the Autoptimize plugin which conveniently include ShortPixel’s on-the-fly image optimization.

ShortPixel: Results

Image Optimization PluginOriginal File SizeFile Size after OptimizationPercentage Reduction
ShortPixel4.3 MB119.5 KB~97%

In our JPEG compression test, ShortPixel’s outperformed every other plugin that we looked at in this post with an amazing 97% reduction in file size. In close second, was WP Compress which still did manage to compress the image an incredible 95%.

And, better yet, in our PNG image compression test, ShortPixel also outperformed all other plugins in this comparison. WPCompress came close second and was just 4% behind. It might be worth noting that ShortPixel has an even smarter method of compressing PNG images which is to convert them into JPEG images for compression which is why they are able to produce greater reductions in file sizes.

ShortPixel: Cloudflare Integration

shortpixel-cloudflare

Not using Cloudflare or don’t know what it is? Here’s what you need to know.

Cloudflare makes your website faster.

Cloudflare has 100s of data centers all over the world which it uses to serve your websites from the server closest to the visitor that is accessing your site. Content is pushed from what is known as your origin server to Cloudflare’s network of data centers all over the world so that when a visitor tried to access your website the request isn’t routed directly to your origin server but to one of Cloudflare’s many servers.

There are two reasons this benefits you – it, for one, obviously makes your website load faster because Cloudflare’s server is statistically more likely to be located close to your target demographic. And, also because this reduces the load on your origin server. It’s fairly likely that you’re hosting a website with a web host that isn’t the best hosting in the world and therefore doesn’t have really dedicated vCPUs and memory assigned to your website.

If every visitor that tried to access your site would access it from one server (your origin server) it’s going to accumulate a massive load compared to distributing the load over Cloudflare’s large network of servers that are located all over the world.

Cloudflare improves your website’s uptime

With Cloudflare’s Always Online technology your site is always going to remain online even if your actual (origin) server incurs some sort of error. As we mentioned earlier, Cloudflare also protects your site from downtime by reducing the amount of load/traffic that actually reaches your origin server – doing so, by distributing the traffic across its massive network of servers all around the world.

How do I activate Cloudflare?

Cloudflare can easily be activated by navigating to your domain registrar and changing to the nameservers that Cloudflare will have assigned to you when you register on their website. By doing this, Cloudflare will automatically recognize your domain, copy your existing domain records and reroute all traffic through their network before it reaches your edge server. But, this process might soon become easier as you may have heard that Cloudflare is announcing their own registrar – something I can certainly say I’m really looking forward to.

ShortPixel: The Verdict

🌐 Support for Shopify (and other PHP frameworks) as well as WordPress

🚀 Tight Cloudflare Integration

📁 Supports all file types

🖼 Up to 100 images per month (with no limit on size) completely free

ShortPixel is definitely one of my personal favorite optimization plugins and I hope that I’ve been able to express that in this review. Their free plan includes a total of 100 images per month with no limit on file sizes, which is a plan that a lot of part-time bloggers will never grow out of…


OptiMole – Image Optimization on Autopilot

The Best WordPress Image Optimization Plugins (2019) 3
OptiMole – Image Optimization on Autopilot

Next up, OptiMole.

OptiMole is made by the developers of ThemeIsle and is an all-in-one image optimization solution for WordPress websites. It is entirely cloud-based which means that it won’t hog any of your server’s valuable CPU which would slow your website down for your visitors.

The great thing about OptiMole is that it actually also optimizes images on-the-fly based on the visitor’s browser and viewport so that they’re not served any larger than they actually need to be.

Notable OptiMole features:

  • Fully automatic image optimization.
  • Serves images of the correct size based on the visitor’s browser and viewport.
  • Serves images via a blazing fast content delivery network.
  • Uses lazy loading to speed up your website’s page loading times.
  • 100% cloud-based processing (no CPU usage/load)
  • Compatibility with new and popular page builders
  • Automatically reduces image quality based on website visitor internet connection speeds.

OptiMole: The Overall Experience

Installing the OptiMole is really as easy as it gets. Install the plugin, activate it and enter your API key when you head to Media > OptiMole in your WordPress admin dashboard.

optimole-navigation
The OptiMole Menu Item in the WordPress Admin Dashboard

You’ll then be taken straight to OptiMole’s settings in which you can customize the way you want the plugin to handle the optimization and compression of your images.

optimole-dashboard
The OptiMole Dashboard

Personally, I prefer the OptiMole user experience over any of the other plugins in this list. It is extremely clean, lean and easy-to-use. The admin area is extremely aesthetic and makes configuring the plugin really nice and easy.

In case you’re not sure what level of compression to choose, OptiMole actually includes a really neat demo of what an example/demo looks like before and after compression with each of the levels so that you can make an informed decision.

Here’s what that looks like:

optimole-comparison

One thing you might notice when using OptiMole is that it doesn’t offer a way of immediately optimizing an image from the WordPress Media Library. This isn’t a huge deal, especially sinnce the purpose of the plugin is to handle everythinng behind the scenes without you having to lift a finger. However, I thought it was worth mentioning in this comparison since the other plugins in this lift do offer that functionality.

OptiMole: Results

Image Optimization PluginOriginal File SizeFile Size after OptimizationPercentage Reduction
OptiMole4.3 MB805 KB~80%

In our test, OptiMole did come in last place just 1% behind Imagify (coming up next) which is interesting to say the least. An image of 4.3 MB was compressed all the way down to 805 KB which is very impressive considering there was no noticeable visible difference between optimized and unoptimized images. This is something which can be extremely important to a lot of website visitors and owners who want to do their images justice.

In many ways simply using the file size reductions doesn’t make for a fair comparison. OptiMole makes your images weigh up to 80% less and speed them up using a range of different methods while still letting you serve great-looking and high quality images to your website visitors.

OptiMole: The Verdict

🥰Amazing and aesthetic lazy-loading effect

The OptiMole lazy-loading mechanism doesn’t require jQuery or any other bloated JavaScript libraries which results in even faster website speeds.

🚀Easy-to-use interface and configuration

OptiMole’s plugin is really great to work with and makes image optimization and compression an afterthought (like it should be) so you can focus on producing content.

📱Adjusts image sizes based on visitor viewport for the fastest possible mobile speeds.

All visitors will see images that have been tailor-optimized to fit their specific screen – for better performance and experience.

If one of your website visitors is on a low-quality internet connection, such as a 3G data connection when using a mobile device, OptiMole automatically downgrades the image quality accordingly.

☁️100% cloud-based

OptiMole does not hog your CPU power as it would be pointless to optimize your images in such a way that would actually result in a slower website due to increased CPU usage.

If being able to show off a fast-loading website, having happy website visitors, and pleasing Google are important, you can’t really go wrong with OptiMole – as long as you’re willing to pay the $9.99/month price tag.

Considering the plugin’s ease-of-use, compression results and the fact that OptiMole also includes Cloudfront’s blazing-fast content delivery network and the best lazy-loading ever in that price – it’s definitely worth it.


Imagify (from the creators of WP Rocket)

imagify-wordpress

The team behind the Imagify plugin is also the team behind the popular (and arguably the best) WordPress caching and speed optimization plugin, WP Rocket.

As you’d expect, Imagify offers all of the essential features such as bulk compression and image resizing.

Imagify offers three different types of compression depending and lets you choose the one which is most suitable for the type of website you run:

  1. Normal: A lossless compression algorithm that will not result in any loss in image quality.
  2. Aggressive: A lossy compression algorithm which will result in a slight reduction in image quality which most of the time may not be noticeable at all or is worth the sacrifice to make your website load faster.
  3. Ultra: The strongest compression algorithm (also lossy, of course) that makes your images as small as possible.

The great thing about choosing one of the above is that with Imagify’s backup functionality, you can always restore the original image and then switch to another compression level which you feel might be more suitable.

Here are some of Imagify’s most notable features:

  • Supports JPG, PNG and animated GIFs.
  • On-the-fly image optimization
  • Support for PrestaShop, Magento, Shopify and Joomla is also coming soon.

Images that exceed Imagify’s 5 MB limit will only be optimized and resized on paid accounts. A free account will let you optimize up to 25 MB every month.

Paid plans start at $4.99/month for only 1 GB of data.

Imagify: The Overall Experience

The Imagify plugin is fairly easy to set up and just like for other plugins, you’re prompted to create a free account to get your API key. The plugin options are kept nice and simple which means once you finish choosing your preferred settings you can start optimizing and speeding up your website right away. Just like with OptiMole, Imagify lets you test an image with varying levels of compression on their website’s visual comparison tool before you make your decision.

Imagify: Results

Image Optimization PluginOriginal File SizeFile Size after OptimizationPercentage Reduction
Imagify4.3 MB802 KB~81%

In our test, Imagify produced an image of almost identical size when compared to OptiMole. If you look closely at the table above, it looks like Imagify came out on top by just 1%.

Just like we said for OptiMole, the fact that Imagify was able to compress the image by 81% with little to no noticeable difference is still really impressive.

Imagify: Verdict

🌐 Support for virtually every platform you could imagine (PrestaShop, Magento, Shopify and Joomla)

🤩 Strong compression that massively reduces file sizes.

⚙️ Easy-to-use settings and configuration.

Overall, Imagify is definitely another personal favorite on this list and it’s safe to say that we’re in safe hands just based on the fact that it is operated by the same team behind WP Rocket. Unfortunately, Imagify is considerably more expensive than OptiMole for the same number of images per month, and if price is one of your main considerations, the clear winner when comparing Imagify and OptiMole for you is OptiMole.


WP Smush – Image Compression and Optimization

smush-wpmudev

Let’s take a look at WP Smush, which is possibly the most popular image compression plugin for WordPress. The tool is developed by the team at WPMU DEV and makes it really easy to quickly optimize the images on your WordPress website.

WP Smush: The Overall Experience

The free version of WP Smush is great, but you can easily upgrade to the Pro version which offers a wider range of features that simplify the image optimization process. However, keep in mind that this will need to have a WPMU DEV membership, which in case you don’t already know costs $49 per month (although it also comes bundled with a lot of other useful plugins for your WordPress websites)

wp-smush-dashboard

As is possible for the next plugin on this list, WP Compress, with WP Smush you can also optimize images directly from the WordPress Media Library which is extremely convenient.

wpsmush-media-library
WP Smush: WordPress Media Library

WP Smush: Results

Image Optimization PluginOriginal File SizeFile Size after OptimizationPercentage Reduction
WP Smush4.3 MB262 KB~94%

In our test WP Smush’s image compression also resulted in massive reductions in file size. It might also be worth noting that in our PNG optimization test, WP Smush Pro actually converted the PNG image that we used into a WebP file which is the new next-gen format that is now recommended by Google.

Learn more about the advantages of serving images in next-gen image formats from Google.

ShortPixel, the first plugin that we looked at in this post also offers conversions to newer file formats such as WebP.

WP Smush: The Verdict

💰Requires a WPMU DEV membership which is expensive

🙌🏼 Your WPMU DEV membership will include a whole range of other plugins that will help you improve and optimize your website so it’s a win-win for you (but not for your wallet 😉

⚙️ Easy-to-use settings and configuration.

📁 WP Smush Pro is able to convert images to the WebP format

WP Smush is a really great WordPress image optimization plugin that (just as the other plugins in this list) makes it very easy to speed up your website by compressing your images. While you might be turned off by the price tag, we encourage you to take another look at everything you get with a WPMU DEV membership because you might end up changing your mind – you really do get a lot of useful, powerful plugins and access to great support.


WP Compress

The Best WordPress Image Optimization Plugins (2019) 4
WP Compress – Image Optimization for Agencies

WP Compress is a relatively new WordPress image optimization plugin but is definitely worth including in this in-depth comparison. It’s the only plugin mentioned which comes with a central optimization management portal that you can use to manage your API keys and websites.

The WP Compress plugin is targeted towards WordPress design/development agencies who want to additionally offer their clients image optimization as a service (and charge them accordingly).

The portal which is available at https://app.wpcompress.com/ makes it very easy to see how many images are being optimized by each website (client quotas) and the average file size reductions that WP Compress’s image compression resulted in.

wpcompress-portal1

Watch your clients’ websites constantly load faster, rank higher and convert better – without you having to lift a finger.

WP Compress: The Overall Experience

Overall, WP Compress is as easy-to-use as you would expect it to be. As it’s designed for agency owners to offer to clients, the plugin can essentially be configured and then completely ignored after that as it will handle image optimization on autopilot.

wpcompress-autopilot

But, if a client was to go to the WordPress Media Library to view the images they’ve uploaded to their website, they can see the percentage and file size savings of the WP Compress optimization as shown below:

wpcompress-medialibrary
WPCompress in the WordPress Media Library

If for any reason the image wasn’t already optimized, you would be able to optimize it and if you wish to restore the original image because you would prefer to serve it in full-resolution then you can always exclude an image from optimization which means that WP Compress will essentially ignore that image until you then choose to optimize it again manually.

This is is definitely a useful feature to have because there are always a select few images which you would really prefer to serve in full resolution for the best viewing experience even if it results in a slight reduction in website speed.

wpcompress-media-library
WP Compress’s Exclude Option in the WordPress Media Library

WP Compress: Results

Image Optimization PluginOriginal File SizeFile Size after OptimizationPercentage Reduction
WP Compress4.3 MB217 KB~95%

In our test, WP Compress came just ahead of Imagify and OptiMole by managing to compress the image a whopping 94%. The plugin was set to intelligent while the other WordPress image optimization plugins in this list were set to their highest levels of compression respectively.

It did however outperform all other plugins in this comparison in the PNG optimization tests.

wp-compress-intelligent

OptiMole came in tied first place with Imagify (coming up next) which is absolutely amazing. An image of 4.3 MB was compressed all the way down to 102 KB which is very impressive considering there is no noticeable visible difference between optimized and unoptimized images.

WP Compress: The Verdict

WP Compress is a great WordPress image optimization plugin for WordPress design, development agencies, and while it does look quite expensive at first – it really isn’t.

All thumbnails are free – so you actually get an unbelievable 1,000 images for only $5 per month.

I really like the plugin because it really makes image optimization an afterthought – once you install it and choose your settings, you don’t really need to worry about and waste time optimizing each image individually.

The Best WordPress Image Optimization Plugins (2019) 5
WPCompress Pricing

Honorable Mention: TinyPNG

The Best WordPress Image Optimization Plugins (2019) 6
TinyPNG

When writing posts just like this one, it’s important to us that we cover every possible angle and try to include as many perspectives as possible. So, if you decide to leave a comment on this post (which I recommend you do), you will notice that someone else also left a comment.

Someone recommended that we also include the TinyPNG WordPress image optimization plugin because they’ve been using it for over five years now and never had any issues with it. And, best of all, TinyPNG’s Compress JPEG & PNG images plugin is completely free.

This means it might not only be perfect for those of you on a budget but also be great if you aren’t looking for all the fancy features that some of the other plugins offer and just want a no-frills image optimization plugin that you don’t have to worry about.


Conclusion: WordPress Image Compression and Optimization.

goodbye
‘Till next time! 👋 (Image Source: GIPHY)

In an effort to be as transparent as possible and truly promote products that we endorse, let’s go through the image optimization and compression workflow I use to ensure that my websites load as fast as possible.

When choosing an image to add to a post or page on our website, we first ensure we have the rights to use the image we’re intending to use. Then, we download it in the highest possible resolution available without taking a screenshot of it.

Once ready to upload the image to a WordPress website, the first thing I do is optimize them locally with ImageOptim. This generally results in an up to 80% reduction in file size alone which is just incredible. Then, once we upload them to our website we also let the Modula Speed Up addon work its magic on our Modula demos (like this lightbox gallery demo).

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On top of that, we also use Kinsta (a.k.a the best possible WordPress hosting) to make sure we really are doing everything we can to make our website load faster. This comes with a built-in content delivery network powered by KeyCDN which serves out webpages and media from powerful edge servers which ensures fast speeds globally due to distributed points of presence.

One of the reasons I’m personally a huge fan of ShortPixel is the built-in support for next-gen image formats like WebP.

ImageOptim is perfect if you don’t want to add another WordPress plugin to your website. It’s also the best way to optimize your images locally before even uploading them to your website.

However, judging from my own personal experiences, ShortPixel is the best choice for most especially given that the free plan will likely be sufficient for most website owners.

And in the case that you run a WordPress design/development agency, I can also strongly recommend WP Compress. On the other hand, if you care about satisfying Google by serving images in next-gen image formats, WP Smush (by WPMU DEV) is definitely a WordPress image optimization plugin worth a look as long as you’re willing to pay for the hefty price tag.

Lossy compression for even smaller files

If you enable lossy minification, you’ll get the smallest file sizes possible and, in turn, the fastest website loading times possible. By default, ImageOptim preserves image quality to avoid reducing the quality of your images. But, if you’re willing to make a small sacrifice, the option is always there. ImageOptim’s lossy compression also works for GIFs and PNGs (not only JPEGs).

We choose to make this small sacrifice of image quality to make sure we don’t keep website visitors waiting (you’re welcome)…

We hope we’ve made it easier for you to choose your go-to WordPress image optimization plugin and save your website visitors from a slow-loading website! Let us know which one you chose by Tweeting @WPModula!