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We all know that website speed is important for the success of our blogs. As even something as small as a 1s to 3s increase in page load time can increase your bounce rate by 32%+.
And not to mention it is an important factor for ranking in search engines.
But getting a fast loading blog always seems much more complicated. Doesn’t it?
After all, there are so many different things you can do. That aim to improve your blog’s loading speed. There are just so many, that it makes it challenging to know where to start.
Yet, not all these tips and tricks to increase your blog speed are created equal. Which is why it is smart to focus on the actions that can get you the biggest results.
In fact, one of the biggest impacts on how quickly your blog loads. Is all down to your images. Why? Well, because images on average make up to 60%+ of a web page’s size.
So, what can you do to solve the impact that images can have on your blog’s loading speed?
Well, as a WordPress blogger you have a wide host of options. In the form of WordPress image compression plugins.
And whilst I have reviewed several of these plugins head-on. I want to focus on giving you a ShortPixel review. So you can understand the features, benefits, limitations and cost. As well as how well it will compress your images. I am also going to cover how to use ShortPixel in WordPress. Including how to install it and configure it to work best for you.
What Is ShortPixel?
So, what does ShortPixel do? ShortPixel is one of several WordPress plugins. That offer a range of image compression tools. That can help bloggers optimize their images better. So they can make their websites load faster.
It is ShortPixel’s job to get your image file sizes as small as possible. With as little loss of image quality as possible. The ShortPixel plugin does an amazing job of making this process easy to action. Plus super affordable, including a free plan. But more on that later.
The other popular image compression plugin options out there include:
Like many other options mentioned here. ShortPixel works based on image credits. So for every image compression, you want to do. You’ll need 1 image credit to be able to do so.
Let’s have a look at some of the specific features that ShortPixel has access to.
ShortPixel Key Features:
- Compress Types: Lossy, Glossy & Lossless.
- Image formats supported – PNG, JPEG, GIF, PDFs & WebP.
- Automatic PNG to JPEG conversion options.
- Can handle PNGs with transparent backgrounds.
- Automatic compression on upload.
- Individual & Bulk image compression tools.
- Reports on images you should compress & those already compressed.
- Image backup options.
- No file size limits.
- Original vs ShortPixel compressed image comparison tool.
- Use of ShortPixel’s API so processing is on their server, saving you resources.
- Any image that isn’t compressed over 5% won’t count towards your image credit allowance.
How To Use ShortPixel In WordPress
Before we look at how to use ShortPixel in WordPress. Let’s start by getting it installed first.
How To Install ShortPixel
Go to Plugins > Add New and then in the search box enter ShortPixel.
Several options will show up. But the one you are interested in downloading is the ShortPixel Image Optimizer.
Install the ShortPixel plugin and then activate it. Once complete navigate to your WordPress dashboard Settings > ShortPixel. From here you can customize your ShortPixel options.
How To Get Your ShortPixel API Key
The first thing you’ll want to do is get an API key from ShortPixel.
To get your API key you’ll need to go to their website and click sign up. So you can create an account and they can provide you with an API key.
Once you’ve got your API Key. You can then copy and paste this key into the API Key box in the General settings part of ShortPixel. Click Save Changes at the bottom to register your API key.
Next, let’s look at some other important settings on this screen. That you’ll want to consider.
How To Use ShortPixel In WordPress To Set Your General Settings
You will want to choose between the 3 compression options. Lossy, Glossy or Lossless.
Lossy is the recommended option. As it provides the best compression for a small difference in quality. In general, your audience won’t notice the difference though. But if you have a critical eye for detail, you might be able to.
Glossy – This option also has a significant amount of compression. Although it is less powerful compared to Lossy. The weaker compression though. Means that the image quality is marginally better than Lossy compression.
Lossless – Will hardly compress your images at all. But offers perfect image quality compared to the original.
All in all, these 3 options give you a range of balances between image compression vs image quality. And if you are not sure about which one to pick. You can always click the option to Make a few tests. Which will let you do some comparisons.
Also Include Thumbnails
Consider this option carefully. As it will have a significant impact on your image credit usage.
WordPress by default creates several thumbnail images. For every image you add to your media library. It does this so it can serve different image sizes without you having to take extra steps. Which is one of the many reasons WordPress is mobile friendly and optimized well for SEO.
But if you have a limited amount of credits. Because you are using the free plan or you’ve bought a limited amount of credits. Then you might want to reduce the thumbnail sizes that ShortPixel optimizes for. To only those that you need or want.
For example, if you have only 1 thumbnail size selected to be optimized. Then WordPress will already be using 2 image credits per image you upload. Which if you think about it. Means you will be using double the amount of credits.
You can adjust the exact thumbnails included in compression. When you configure an option in the Advanced section for this. But more on that later.
I recommend leaving this off, as strange as this might sound. As it will add a lot of extra data to your site. Which might be fine if you have unlimited storage space like on Bluehost.
But it also has the added side effect of making your WordPress backups of your entire blog larger too. Which you likely will have limited space for. Unless you can afford to pay for other options beyond UpdraftPlus.
I prefer to just keep a copy of all the images I upload to WordPress on an external hard drive. Rather than adding them to my backups.
Remove EXIF Tag Of The Image
This setting removes extra data included with images files. Such as the camera model used to take the photo. Or the location the image was taken. This extra information makes your file sizes bigger. So enabling this option will help to save a small amount of extra data.
Resize Larger Images
The last general option here. This setting resizes images over a certain size to further help you to save on data space. ShortPixel will generally warn you if you try to make this setting too small. But try thinking about the largest image size your blog or theme uses. Then set this setting a little bit higher than that. Is usually a good rule of thumb.
How To Use ShortPixel In WordPress To Set Your Advanced Settings
Firstly, you should know that all these are optional. So don’t feel like you have to change any. Also, they are all under the Advanced tab. If you do decide to fine-tune them.
Additional Media Folders
This setting allows you to add other folders on your blog. That contain images or PDFs outside the default WordPress media library. So that they can also be compressed. Otherwise, you don’t need to worry about this.
Automatically Convert The PNG Images To JPEG If Possible
This will automatically convert all images that don’t have any transparency to JPEG. This is particularly useful as JPEG images often convert to much smaller file sizes than PNG. Unless the image involves a lot of whitespace in my experience.
CMYK To RGB Conversion
Okay, so here’s a little bit of my digital printing experience coming through 😉
CMYK is simply the color information that printers use. But when it comes to images displayed on your screen. The information used is RGB.
By converting your images from CMYK to RGB you are not only optimizing your images for viewing on your device’s screen. But you are also able to compress your image file sizes, even more, to save on data.
If you enable this, you can generate extra optimized images in the WebP format. This is a new image format created by Google.
You will find it is supported by most popular browsers currently. With the most notable exceptions being Safari and Internet Explorer.
Creating WebP images also doesn’t require any extra image credits to use. And whilst it isn’t supported everywhere yet. It is likely to become more popular over time. As who wouldn’t want to squeeze an extra 25% image compression and a simplified file format. As WebP also supports transparency too!
Since it is free, and might not be for forever. I would recommend having this enabled. As well as reading up on the ShortPixel blog. So you can learn how to maximize this feature to use for your blog. It is definitely advanced though. So if you are new to blogging. Then I would just enable this for now. And focus on other stuff. As you can always come back to it later.
Optimize Retina Images
This option will enable optimizing any @2x retina-specific images. That have been created on your blog. These are usually created by retina-specific plugins.
Optimize Other Thumbs
Sometimes certain plugins can create thumbnail files. That normally aren’t included in your media library. By enabling this option ShortPixel will start compressing these thumbnails too.
PDFs can often be quite bloated. So if you offer PDF downloads. Then you can easily use ShortPixel to optimize and compress your PDF files too.
You can tell ShortPixel to ignore compressing certain files. Based on their name, path or size. This option is a little tricky to use though. So I wouldn’t worry about it too much.
HTTP AUTH Credentials & Process In The Front-End
These are both extremely advanced. So do not change the values unless you know what you are doing.
Optimize Media On Upload
If for some specific reason. You didn’t want images compressed when you upload something new to the media library. Then disabling this option would do that for you.
Exclude Thumbnail Sizes
As I mentioned earlier ShortPixel works on image credits. And whenever you upload new images to WordPress. It by default creates thumbnail images. Each extra thumbnail that WordPress creates. Is an extra image credit used by ShortPixel as they are all compressed separately. So if you want to manage exactly which thumbnails ShortPixel compresses or doesn’t. Then this option will let you more finely control that.
Overall, whatever options you decide to enable or disable. Make sure you click the Save Changes button at the bottom.
How To Use ShortPixel In WordPress With The Cloudflare API
The next section is if you use Cloudflare on your blog. If you do, then you’ll want to make sure you fill in these details. As it will help prevent issues with caching or updating files. To fill in the details, you will need your Cloudflare account email, Global API key, and zone ID.
Under each box in this section. You can see more information on where in Cloudflare you can find these details.
ShortPixel Statistics Tab
Here is where you can review what ShortPixel has done. You can see important information such as your average image compression rates. As well as details on your monthly credits, and one-time credit amounts.
As you can see from my results. ShortPixel is doing an amazing amount of compression. With an average rate of 76.81%!
And that’s all you need to know about setting up the ShortPixel plugin.
How To Use ShortPixel In WordPress To Compress Your Images
So, now that ShortPixel is setup. Let me show you how to use ShortPixel in WordPress to compress your images.
There are 3 methods you can use depending on where you are with your blog:
Optimize Images On Upload Automatically
If your blog is brand new and you haven’t uploaded any images to your media library yet. Then you only need to upload new images to the media library. As ShortPixel will automatically compress them on upload. This does mean that uploading images might take slightly longer. But it is usually a quick and painless process. That is well worth the effort.
The 2nd option you have for how to use ShortPixel in WordPress. Is if you already have images uploaded to your blog’s media library. Even if you only have a few images or hundreds. You can use the Bulk Image Optimization tool. To compress all these using your ShortPixel settings that we setup earlier.
You can find the option for this in your WordPress dashboard. Under the Media > Bulk ShortPixel menu.
The screen will tell you how many original images and thumbnails you have. That ShortPixel believes needs optimizing. You can then click Start Optimizing. And ShortPixel will start to compress all these images for you.
Optimize Individual Images
The 3rd option for how to use ShortPixel in WordPress is that you can compress individual images directly in the media library. Make sure your view is set to the list mode. Tick the box next to any images you want to optimize. Then you can click on the Bulk Actions dropdown list and select Optimize with ShortPixel > Apply.
How Efficient Is The ShortPixel Plugin Compression?
Right, so the most important aspect of a WordPress image compression plugin. Is just how effective it is at, well compressing images. Not all tools will compress your images by the same amount or to the same level of quality.
For example in one of my previous posts. Where I compared a bunch of the most popular image compression plugins. I found that the free version of Smush is actually terrible for compressing your images. And instead, if you want their better compression rates. You’d have to pay for their premium version. Which kinda sucks as it is rather expensive. Since it covers their entire suite of WordPress plugins.
So, how does the ShortPixel plugin compare? Well, even using the most aggressive Lossy compression. Resulted in almost no loss of image quality. In addition, I made a note of the results I got for 4 different varying images. So you can see for yourself how efficient the image compression can be.
Examples Of ShortPixel Compression Using Glossy & Lossy Settings
To start with I used a big, colorful photographic image. The original file size was 211kb and after compressing using Glossy. ShortPixel brought this number down to 85kb (59.95% reduction). Compared to when using the Lossy setting, which compressed the image down to 40kb (81.04% reduction).
I tried an additional image with more whites and light colors. Which was reduced from 240kb to 73kb using Glossy (69.74% reduction). And a final size of 68kb when using Lossy (71.98% reduction).
Another test I used was one of my Pinterest images. Since it was a lot of text and block colors. Again, ShortPixel reduced the image file size from 82kb to 69kb using Glossy (15.36% reduction). And 35kb when using Lossy (56.83% reduction)
My final test was with a screenshot type of image, lots of white and text. With very little actual images on it. The image was compressed from 22.4kb to 11kb using Glossy (49.74% reduction). Whilst the final size using Lossy compression was 9kb (57.97% reduction).
Overall, with ShortPixel. You get extremely high-quality images with highly efficient compression on top. Not to mention a host of useful features to go with it.
Note: If you want to be able to compare images using ShortPixel’s compare tool. You will need to enable backups for it to work.
How Much Does ShortPixel Cost?
It doesn’t matter how high-quality, the images are from ShortPixel. Or the amount of compression it can give. If ShortPixel isn’t in your price range.
So, how much is it?
Well, the good news is that it is one of the most affordable options out there. As they offer a wide range of packages.
ShortPixel Free Plan
To start with, they have a free option, that will give you 100 image credits to use per month. Keep in mind these credits do expire. So you can’t save them up for later.
If you need more than 100 image credits per month. There are also bigger packages. Which is something I found I had to invest in. Because 100 images just weren’t enough for me.
ShortPixel Monthly Plans
Their monthly starting package starts from $4.99 per month. Which comes with 5,000 image credits monthly.
ShortPixel One-Time Plans
But if you’d rather not subscribe to another monthly service because your budget is tight. You can also buy one of their one-time packages. These start at $9.99 for 10,000 image credits and these do not expire, ever.
In fact, when I found myself constantly out of their 100 free image credits. ShortPixel predicted based on my usage which package was best for me.
And you know what? They actually suggested the 10k one-time package rather than the monthly package. As they estimated it would last me a good 6-8months. So if $9.99 for 6 months of optimal images, isn’t affordable. Then I don’t know what is!
But, just in case you are looking for an even better deal. Sometimes AppSumo offers a ShortPixel lifetime deal. Where you can get the ShortPixel’s package of 5,000 image credits monthly. For the small one-time price of around $37. That’s a lifetime deal of ShortPixel image credits for $37 instead of paying $4.99 every month.
Why Use ShortPixel Compared To Other WordPress Image Compression Plugins?
So, now that you know how to use ShortPixel in WordPress. Plus all the other features discussed above. Why would you want to use ShortPixel?
Benefits Of Using ShortPixel
- Automated image optimization once setup.
- Bulk and individual optimization options.
- Cost-effective with options to buy low-cost credits that are used per image. As well as monthly packages or even their lifetime upgrade that goes on sale from time to time on AppSumo.
- High compression & image quality.
- None of their compression options are locked behind a paid plan. (Unlike Smush.) You get their best compression rates even on the free plan. So you can test it yourself before giving them any of your hard-earned money.
- Latest features to help speed up your blog, including support for WebP.
- Easy built-in comparison tool (requires backups to be enabled).
- Lots of settings to allow you complete control over how your images are optimized
- Use of ShortPixel’s API meaning their server handles the processing. Meaning less strain on your blog. And avoids annoying your web host.
Cons Of Using ShortPixel
- Credits are based on how many optimized versions of your images you create. Meaning any thumbnails your WordPress blog makes. Will also count to the monthly limit or credits you have. You can disable compressing thumbnails, but this is not setup by default.
- The backup system of your images can significantly inflate your backup sizes. So if you are working with limited space whilst using UpdraftPlus as a free solution for your blog. Strongly consider how important it is for you to backup your images.
- ShortPixel can sometimes result in images being over-optimized. If for example, you have another plugin that optimizes images. In my case, some of my images got pixelated as both ShortPixel and Jetpack were trying to optimize my images. The solution? Just disable Jetpack’s image compression tools.
- The tool that you can use to see the original image and ShortPixel compressed image next to each other. Only works if you have the image backups setting enabled.
Overall – Is ShortPixel worth it?
So, hopefully, this guide has given you some tips and tricks. That will allow you to setup your ShortPixel plugin with ease. As well as know how to use ShortPixel in WordPress. To compress your images to an optimal level.
Whilst there are a few minor cons of using this WordPress image compression plugin. These are far outweighed by the positives. As ShortPixel offers high compression rates with optimal image quality. All of which is within affordable packages. That even beginner bloggers can consider investing in. Since blog speed is so important for both your SEO and keeping visitors on your blog.
If getting the balancing act between your page load speeds and image quality is important to you. Then ShortPixel is well worth the time and investment to setup on any WordPress blog.
As it will consistently give you high-quality results automatically whilst saving you time. So you can focus on other things like creating your images and blog posts in the first place.
Have you ever tried ShortPixel for your blog? What were your results?
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