Since WordPress 5.8 update added support for WebP, optimizing images in WordPress becomes easier. You can now upload WebP images that are leaner than JPEGs and PNGs. You can also test the new WordPress Performance team’s free plugin, which turns every uploaded JPEG into WebP.
If you already have WebP you should then consider a CDN and preloading your images. Make sure to have images with the proper sizing, including having a different image for mobile.
Take a look at the list below of how to improve your WordPress images for better loading times and user experience.
Convert PNGs and JPEGs to WebP
Convert your PNGs or JPEG images to a modern image format such as WebP to improve on size but keep the quality. WordPress added support for WebP in the 5.8 version, which means you can upload WebP images. Using WebP images solves Pagespeed’s “Serve images in next-gen formats” label.
The WordPress Performance team recently released a free plugin that does create WebP from newly uploaded jpeg images, it’s in beta. This improvement will be later merged into WordPress Core.
The AVIF format is still not popular but as more WordPress plugins add support, you should consider it. To upload AVIF images on WordPress, you can edit functions.php to add support. *Safari browser still partially supports AVIF.
Cloudinary offers a free Website Image Analysis Tool that identifies opportunities to compress and size images across the page, including AVIF and WebP formats.
Consider our Imagify vs Smush vs Optimole post on choosing the best plugin for converting your images to webp.
⚠️ Using a plugin that converts your images from png and jpeg to WebP may increase your website storage usage.
Use a CDN
CDN(Content Delivery Network), loads your images from distributed servers around the world to speed up the load time.
Properly size the images and use a different image for mobile
Properly size your images and use a smaller image for the mobile viewport. Modern themes have built-in UI to change and add responsive images to mobile. You can also use Cloudinary’s free Website Image Analysis Tool to identify size improvements across images.
Resizing the images to improve load time isn’t always necessary as using a modern compressed image format like WebP or AVIF. If lazyload is applied, below-the-fold images of the page won’t interfere with the page’s initial load, but only with server costs(bandwidth).
Preload above-the-fold images to speed up their load time. Use a WordPress function to preload the image only on the specific pages where it appears, or use a plugin to do it automatically.
Use Perfmatters and its conditional preloading to preload assets only on certain parts of your website, or its “Preload Critical Images” beta feature that will automatically preload the number of leading images that you choose (0-5).
Lazyload your images. Lazyloading is when you delay the load or initialization of assets until they’re needed to improve performance.
WordPress 5.9 update brings a new logic for its lazyload feature wichs improves a lot the way it loads images. WordPress will now skip the very first “content image or iframe” on the page from being lazy-loaded. This improvement depends on how many images your website loads.
You can use a filter to remove above-the-fold images but WP Rocket offers a UI feature to remove above-the-fold images from lazyloading, such as the logo and other images that may be lower the LCP(Largest Contentful Paint):
You should also lazyload background images. Other lazyload plugins:
- Lazyload (Wp Media) – Free plugin with a filter to remove above-the-fold images from lazy loading(Improper lazyload leads to bad LCP).
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