ShortPixel Review: A Great Way to Maximize Your Website’s Performance
Published on September 25, 2023 by Simon Wright
If you need a way to improve your website’s speed, the ShortPixel Image Optimization Plugin might be the perfect place to start.
This popular add-on for WordPress optimizes your images and reduces their file sizes, thereby significantly improving website performance. Best of all, you can do everything from within WordPress, much of it automatically.
So, whether you’re a web designer, webmaster, or just someone who wants to improve their website’s speed, read on to learn more about ShortPixel’s Image Optimization Plugin.
What Is Image Optimization and Why Is It Important?
In today’s digital age, where attention spans are becoming shorter than ever, having a fast-loading website is crucial. Numerous studies are available showing how users often leave websites that take more than a few seconds to load. One of the biggest factors that contribute to slow site performance is large image file sizes.
Images are essential to any website, as they help visually engage users and enhance the overall design. However, they can also significantly slow things down if not properly optimized. This is where image optimization steps in to save the day.
Image optimization involves compressing and optimizing images to reduce their file size without drastically impacting quality. Doing it can significantly improve your website’s loading time, leading to improved user experience, search engine rankings, and conversion rates.
Fortunately, tools like the ShortPixel Image Optimization Plugin are available to make image optimization a breeze.
What is ShortPixel Image Optimization Plugin?
The ShortPixel Image Optimization Plugin is a powerful add-on for WordPress that can significantly enhance the performance of your website. It compresses images and reduces their file size without destroying quality.
To ensure that the optimization process does not impact your site resources, ShortPixel uses a cloud as a kind of working area. The plugin sends the images there for optimization, and once that is complete, they are returned from the cloud to your website’s media library, replacing the originals.
Once optimized by Shortpixel, your images will have no discernible loss of quality but will be significantly smaller than the originals. The result is improved page loading times, an enhanced user experience, and happy search engines.
Key Features of the ShortPixel Image Optimization Plugin
Here are some of ShortPixel’s key features:
1. User-Friendly Interface:
Thanks to ShortPixel’s intuitive interface, you don’t need any technical know-how to compress and optimize your images. Moreover, the plugin integrates into your WordPress dashboard, allowing you to perform optimization quickly and easily.
2. Wide Range of Supported Image Formats:
ShortPixel plugin supports numerous image formats, including JPEG, PNG, and GIF, with no restrictions on file size. This means that regardless of what image types you have on your website, the plugin can optimize them for maximum performance.
Moreover, ShortPixel compresses PDF documents, which is very helpful, given how notoriously byte-hungry those often are.
3. Configurable Optimization Level:
With the ShortPixel plugin, you can configure the optimization level of your images. This is useful given that some website types, such as image galleries, require higher-quality images compared to others.
4. Automatic Image Optimization:
Another standout feature of the ShortPixel Image Optimization Plugin is that it can automatically optimize new images immediately after you upload them to your website. This means you don’t have to worry about manually compressing every single one, as the plugin takes care of it for you. Also, the plugin will skip previously optimized images.
5. HEIC File Support:
With ShortPixel, you can add images directly from your iPhone in Apple’s HEIC format, after which they are automatically converted to JPG and optimized.
6. Smart Cropping:
Smart Cropping optimizes every thumbnail on your website and regenerates them to display the image as fully as possible. The great thing about this feature is all thumbnails will appear correctly and consistently – no more chopped-off heads!
7. WP Retina 2x Compatibility:
While Retina images are generally large, ShortPixel automatically compresses them with no discernible loss in quality.
8. WP Retina 2x Compatibility:
Many images contain EXIF data, which the capturing device (e.g., the camera) or processing software saves as part of the image file. This can include information like date and time stamps, Geolocation data, etc. To reduce the image file size and provide better data protection, ShortPixel can remove the EXIF data.
9. Bulk Optimization:
ShortPixel can bulk optimize all images that exist in your Media Library. Moreover, it can do the same to any gallery.
10. Excellent Compatibility:
ShortPixel works seamlessly with most plugins, including image galleries, media, eCommerce, etc. Moreover, it works with all the popular hosting providers.
The above is only a selection of the main features of this plugin. To see a complete list of what others it includes, check out the ShortPixel webpage.
Installing and Configuring ShortPixel Image Optimization Plugin
Installation and configuration of the ShortPixel Image Optimization Plugin is an easy process. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started:
1. Download and Install the Plugin:
Start by going to the WordPress plugin repository and search for “ShortPixel Image Optimization.” Once you locate the plugin, click “Install Now” and then activate it just as you would any other plugin.
2. Register for a ShortPixel Account:
After downloading and activating the ShortPixel plugin, it will invite you to register for an API key. Simply type your email address into the corresponding fields under the “Join ShortPixel” section where it says “request an API Key” and hit “Request Key:”
Once the registration procedure is complete, you will receive an API key via email, which you should enter into the “API Key field” in the ShortPixel Plugin Settings panel. However, that field may automatically populate, as was the case when we registered:
3. Configure Plugin Settings:
You can now start configuring the plugin to your specific needs. The “ShortPixel Plugins Settings” panel contains all the controls you need, so activate the ones you require.
Remember to check the settings on both the “General” and “Advanced” tabs. Once you have finished configuring the plugin, hit the “Save Changes” button.
Optimizing Images Using the ShortPixel Plugin
Now you have installed and configured ShortPixel in your WordPress dashboard, it’s time to start optimizing your images. Here’s how:
1. Bulk Optimizing Existing Images:
To compress images already present on your website, hit “Save and Go to Bulk Process.” This will take you to the ShortPixel Bulk Processing page. It is also possible to access it via the “Media” option in the WordPress menu, which should now include a “Bulk ShortPixel” option. Click “Start Optimizing” to go to the “ShortPixel Bulk Optimization” options screen:
Ensure “Media Library” is selected, and if you wish, activate the options to create WebP and AVIF versions. Click “Calculate.”
ShortPixel will now tell you how many credits you will need to optimize all the images on your site. If this is more than 100, you must purchase a paid plan, which can be done from within the plugin using either the “Buy Unlimited Credits” or the “Show me the best options” buttons. You will be redirected to the ShortPixel website to do this.
Once you have purchased credits, they may not always appear in the ShortPixel admin panel in WordPress. If that is the case, go to your dashboard on the ShortPixel website and add it under the “Associate Domains” option.
Once you are all set with credits, return to the ShortPixel admin panel in WordPress and click “Start Bulk Optimization” to proceed.
The progress of the bulk optimization is displayed, and as each image is completed, you will (briefly) see how much compression was applied:
When the bulk optimization process is complete, Shortpixel will display a summary containing information like the number of images processed and the average optimization percentage.
2. Automatic Image Optimization:
If you want the plugin to automatically optimize new images the moment they are added to your website, go to the “Advanced” tab on the ShortPixel Settings page and ensure “Optimize media on upload” is enabled. This will ensure that all new images are automatically compressed and optimized for maximum performance.
Following the above steps will allow you to easily add ShortPixel to your WordPress website and start compressing your images. The faster loading times it provides will help enhance both your site’s performance and user experience.
Testing the Performance Boost
Once you have installed and configured the ShortPixel Image Optimization Plugin, it’s time to put it to the test and see how much it can improve your website’s performance.
Here are the steps for testing the performance boost of the ShortPixel plugin:
1. Measure the current loading time of your website:
Using a tool like Google PageSpeed Insights or GTmetrix, measure your website’s current performance before using the ShortPixel plugin. Take a note or screenshot of the results:
2. Use the ShortPixel plugin to compress your images:
Bulk optimize your website’s images and PDFs following the instructions above under “Optimizing Images Using the ShortPixel Plugin.”
3. Measure the loading time of your website after image optimization:
Re-run the performance test and compare the results from the initial one to see the difference.
As you can see from the results of our test site, the performance figure of 89% was already quite good, but optimizing the images using ShortPixel pushed that up to 91%. Furthermore, the LCP reduced from 1.5 to 1.4 seconds, which may not seem like much, but in internet terms, it’s an age! Moreover, our test site did not have many images, so we would expect to see more significant improvements on sites laden with many high-quality photographs and PDFs.
ShortPixel offers several flexible pricing options to accommodate various needs and budgets.
You’ll be pleased to know that a free plan is available. That includes 100 free image optimization credits per month, which you can use on unlimited websites. This is ideal if you have a small website or just want to test the plugin before committing to a paid plan.
However, owners of larger websites with a high volume of images may wish to consider one of ShortPixel’s paid plans. These are categorized as follows:
ShortPixel’s Unlimited plans start at $9.99 per month for unlimited credits for a single website. If you need to cover more sites, Unlimited 5 costs $39.99 per month for up to five domains, while Unlimited 10 costs $69.99 for ten sites. These plans are great for websites with masses of images to optimize each month.
2. Monthly Plans
These plans start at $4.99 monthly for 7,000 image credits, rising to $99.99 per month for a whopping 220,000 credits. These plans are probably best suited to medium-volume users.
3. Credit Packages
For 10,000 credits with no expiry date, you will pay $9.99. Various other Credit Packages are available, with the largest (and most expensive) costing $249 for half a million credits. These are probably best suited to more occasional users who tightly control their website’s operating budget.
The variety of pricing options offered by ShortPixel makes it easy to find a plan to meet your precise requirements and budget. Moreover, if you can commit to an annual plan, generous discounts are available, plus you also get an extra two months for free.
Incidentally, if you run a non-profit, give ShortPixel a call, as they give free credits on request to such organizations.
ShortPixel Image Optimization Plugin Pros
The ShortPixel Image Optimization Plugin offers numerous benefits for your website, its users, and administrators:
1. Faster Loading Times:
By compressing and optimizing your images, the plugin reduces their file size, resulting in faster webpage loading times. This leads to a vastly improved user experience because your site users won’t have to wait for large images to load. Furthermore, search engines like faster sites, often placing them higher in search results than slower competitors.
2. User-Friendly Interface:
As we have already mentioned, the developers of ShortPixel clearly have simplicity in mind. Its user-friendly admin interface makes it easy for anyone to compress and optimize images with just a few clicks, regardless of their technical knowledge.
3. Wide Range of Image Formats Supported:
Whatever format your images are in, whether they are JPEGs, PNGs, GIFs, etc., ShortPixel can handle them. The plugin will even optimize PDFs.
4. Automatic Optimization:
The “Optimize media on upload” feature makes optimizing new images an absolute breeze. This will save you much time and effort, as you won’t have to compress each one manually.
5. Pricing Model to Suit All Applications:
ShortPixel’s pricing model makes finding a plan matching your budget and usage requirements easy. We particularly like the Credit Packages, which are effectively ‘pay-as-you-go.’
6. Regularly Updated and Well Supported:
Having more than 300,000 active downloads through WordPress alone, ShortPixel is an extremely popular plugin. As such, it is updated regularly, and bugs are fixed as soon as they become apparent.
However, in the unlikely event you do encounter problems, there are several ways to get help:
- The developer’s extensive knowledge base
- The WordPress forum for the plugin.
- The developer’s 24/7 support team.
ShortPixel Image Optimization Plugin Cons
Despite its many advantages, ShortPixel does have a couple of potential downsides to consider, although they are relatively minor:
The plugin offers a free plan, but it has limitations in terms of the number of images that can be optimized (currently 100 per month.)
Therefore, if your website has lots of images, you’ll probably want to upgrade to a paid plan for more optimization capacity.
However, in all fairness, ShortPixels’ pricing is highly competitive, and the range of options means there is something to suit every budget and application.
2. Quality Trade-Off:
Although the ShortPixel plugin strives to maintain image quality while reducing file size, some loss is inevitable.
However, in all honesty, the difference is minimal, and the average user is unlikely to notice. The only time the reduced quality might be problematic is with websites that need high-definition images. However, such images are often targets for plagiarists, so site owners usually prefer lower-quality ones.
Final Thoughts – Is ShortPixel Image Optimization Plugin Worth It?
After reviewing the features, benefits, and pricing of the ShortPixel Image Optimization Plugin, we think this tool is well worth the investment, as it will positively impact the speed and performance of your website.
The benefits of image optimization are undeniable: faster loading times = enhanced user experience + increased visitor engagement + higher chances of conversion. With ShortPixel, you can easily compress and optimize your images without compromising quality.
The user-friendly interface and advanced optimization techniques make the plugin accessible to anyone, regardless of technical knowledge. Whether you’re a web designer, webmaster, or just looking to enhance your website’s speed, the ShortPixel Image Optimization Plugin is a must-have tool.
ShortPixel’s free plan is a great starting point, and the affordable paid plans offer excellent value, given the performance improvements they provide. We particularly like how flexible and transparent the pricing options are.
So, by compressing your images with the ShortPixel Image Optimization Plugin, you can achieve faster loading times and improve your WordPress website’s overall performance. The result will be a better user experience and increased chances of visitors staying on your site. Give it a try and see the performance boost for yourself!
One final thing before we finish: even when every image on your site is optimized, if your web hosting provider is not up to par, your site will suffer. That is why we recommend WP Bolt’s virtual private server (VPS) hosting. With this, you get dedicated server space and resources, meaning your site will be highly secure and super-fast compared to shared hosting. To learn more, please read “Shared Hosting vs. WordPress Hosting.”
If you would like more suggestions on how to optimize your website’s performance, please click here.
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