EWWW Image Optimizer plugin is all about? You smart fellow! Yes, it optimizes your images. But there is a small glitch. There are two options available in the WordPress plugins repository:
- EWWW Image Optimizer
- EWWW Image Optimizer Cloud
So, what is the difference?
The one with the ‘Cloud’ appended at the end will optimize all your images by taking them to the cloud. The one with no ‘Cloud’ will perform all the image optimization on your server.
And guess what?
They have several other plugins including Easy Image Optimizer, SWIS Performance, S3 Image Optimizer, EWWW Image Optimizer SILO and Imsanity.
Honestly, they just made all things overly complicated.
That is one of the reasons why I do not recommend this plugin. Rather, go for Imagify. It is simple and you can easily understand what is happening around you. No one should be spending hours figuring out what different versions of a plugin can do.
Making things too complex for people does not really make any sense.
This review will focus on EWWW Image Optimizer – the first plugin the company created to help you optimize your image on your server.
I will not be focusing on the other image optimization plugins they offer.
So, let us begin!
Ease of Use
Why am I starting with “Ease of Use?” Conventionally I start by speaking about features of a plugin. Unfortunately, this plugin is quite complex to start with. That is the reason why I decided to focus on what matters the most in this case – how easy or difficult it is to use the plugin.
Guess what? You will be greeted with some shock when you install the plugin. It is freely available through WordPress repository.
Once you install and activate the plugin and go to its settings through Dashboard >> Settings >> EWWW Image Optimizer, you will be greeted with a dreadful screen that does look like a segment of rocket science, especially for those who are not technically savvy.
This is what you will notice:
What on earth is the exec() function?
Well, I am not going to hit the technical details, but you need to know that for this plugin to work that function MUST be enabled. If it is disabled, you cannot use it for optimizing images on your server. You need to use their cloud version.
So, how do you know whether that function is enabled or disabled? Where do you find that function in the first place?
Heard of the file php.ini?
That file is located on your server, and you need to edit that file to enable the feature if it is disable.
You need to access your server and go to the folder where WordPress is installed. It is usually the public_html folder.
You can find the php.ini file in there. If you have a file manager, you can edit the file directly on the server. Alternatively, you can download the file to your computer. Open it with a text editor and then edit.
What do you need to edit?
Search for the option which reads:
disable_functions = “show_source, system, shell_exec, exec”
Edit that line and change it to:
disable_functions = “show_source, system, shell_exec”
Now, save the file and upload it back on the sever.
What if your php.ini file does not contain a line like that? Just shoot a support mail to your hosting provider and ask!
If you have exec() function enabled, select the options “Speed up your site,” and ” “Stick with free mode for now,” and proceed. If you think you are an expert and you can handle everything without guidance, click on the link which reads “I know what I am doing, leave me alone!”
I will usually recommend going for the “leave me alone” option because that give you fine control.
Remember that if you are using the free option, WebP conversion will not be available. For that you will either need an API key (purchase a subscription) or use the Easy Image Optimizer plugin that also requires a subscription.
Moving Forward with “Leave Me Alone” Option
When you select the “Leave Me Alone” option, you will be greeted with the basic settings screen:
What you see are a few basic settings that include:
- Activate Easy IP and/or Compress API
- Stick with free mode for now (that is what I will be using for this review)
- Remove Metadata – Yes
- Resize image – set the dimensions if you want all your uploaded images to be resized to specific dimensions.
- Add Missing Dimensions – It says that you will need Lazy Load for this, but you cannot use it even if you are activating Lazy Load in the next option.
- Lazy Load – enable it.
When you enable lazy load, more options show up. It clearly says that images will become responsible only and only when you use a paid subscription.
Enabling lazy load shows a few more options:
Even though you enable lazy load and automatic scaling, remember that automatic scaling (serving right image size with responsive markup) works with the paid version.
You can enable SVG Placeholders if you are using SVG images. Some themes use SVG images. Inlining them with placeholders will minimize the HTTP requests. Enable that feature.
LQIP or low-quality image placeholder is a good option for improving user experience as people will not see a blank space created by lazy load. They will see a low quality image and understand that something exists there.
If there are external background images that do not have inline style attributes can be lazy loaded only if you specify the class/id values. If you do not know what this means, just leave it blank.
If you do not want certain images to be lazy loaded, exclude them here. You might want to exclude your site logo from lazy loading.
Honestly, even in the easy setup mode the options are quite difficult for those who are not aware of the technical stuff.
If you want advanced options, you can click on the link on top which reads Enable Ludicrous Mode.
What is wrong with the developers? Can they not just write Advanced Mode?
Anyway, switching to the advanced more you will see this:
I have already covered the basic tab.
Moving on to the local tab you will notice this:
Do not even bother trying to set anything here. What you see here is what you get unless you pay for their API.
Moving on to the Advanced tab, you will see this:
I do not think you need separate explanations for the elements you find here. They have already clarified what each option means. What do you do here? Here are the settings:
- Parallel optimization: If you are on a shared hosting – NO!
- Scheduled Optimization: YES
- Include Media Folders: YES
- Include Originals: YES / NO – depends. I will set it to NO, because WordPress scales down the uploaded images and you should be keeping them like that unless you want to display the original images, which is a foolish idea. Original images are bigger in size, and they will slow down your website.
- Folders to Optimize: Add the folders you want to optimize (make sure that you are selecting folders that contain images). You need to add complete path to the folders.
- Folders to Ignore: You may want to exclude certain images stored in certain folders to be excluded from optimization. Add them here. Use the complete path for the folders.
Save the changes you make.
Moving to the Resize tab, you will see this:
Here are the settings:
Resize Detection – Enable (It will only show you the images that must be resized)
Resize Existing Images – YES!
Resize Other Images – YES!
Disable Resizes: If you want certain dimensions to be excluded from resizing, select them here. I will not recommend doing this.
That is all!
Now moving on to the Convert tab, you will see this:
Again, WebP conversion is not available unless you purchase the API or using the paid Easy IO plugin.
Here are the rest of the settings:
Hide Conversion Links: YES (if you have a multisite network)!
Delete Originals: NO (you may need them later)
JPG to PNG: NO! Use the individual conversion links in media library to selectively convert JPGs to PNG. This conversion is good for logos with few colors.
This is how the conversion link looks like in the media library:
PNG to JPG: If you have images for photographic use, YES! JPG is better for photographic use. Note that if your PNG images have transparency enabled by default, automatic conversion will not work. You have to manually convert them using links. If you have PNG images with transparency, set a background color for JPG. I will recommend white which has a code of #ffffff.
Remember that PNG to JPG conversion will be lossy compression as some data will be removed.
GIF to PNG: YES (remember that animated GIFs cannot be converted)
Moving to the Overrides tab, you will notice that it has a hyperlink. Clicking on it will take you to a new browser tab where you can see the set of function that you can define within the wp-config.php file to override the default behavior of the plugin. I will not recommend messing around with this feature.
Then you have the Support tab where you can enable support beacon (gives access to support team and documentation right inside WordPress dashboard) and debugging.
Finally, in the Contribute tab, you can allow usage tracking!
The Bulk Optimizer
You can bulk optimize your images either from Dashboard >> Media >> Bulk Optimize, or you can find the bulk optimization option in the plugin settings page:
Running bulk optimizer will optimize all images that were already present on your server before installing the plugin.
When you try to bulk optimize your images, this is what you will see:
Hit the scan button and then follow the onscreen prompts. Scanning will show how many images are present that requires optimization.
When bulk optimization runs, this is what you will notice:
Once bulk optimization is over, you can visit the media library to ensure that optimization has happened. This is what you will see in media library:
That is pretty much all you get in the EWWW Image Optimizer.
If you go for their paid plans, you will some additional features that include:
- WebP compression.
- Image delivery through CDN (custom domain for CDN on higher plans).
- Auto Scaling of images
- JS and CSS optimization services
- SWIS Performance (DNS prefetch, Google font optimization, page caching, JS defer, inline CCSS to prevent FOUC, JS/CSS minification, browser caching, static resource delivery through CDN, and so on).
They have three pricing plans available. They are:
Standard: $7 per month
- 1 site license
- Unlimited image compression
- 200 GB CDN bandwidth
- CDN locations available only in the US and EU
Growth: $15 per month (get all Standard features plus more)
- License for up to 10 sites
- Global CDN
- 400 GB CDN bandwidth
- Custom CDN domain
Infinite: $25 per month (get all Growth features plus more)
- License for unlimited sites
- 800 GB CDN bandwidth
- Site speed audit
They also have one-time credit plans where you can purchase predefined number of credits for a certain price. For every image optimized, one credit is used. So, if you have 5000 images, you will need 5000 credits. Remember that it will include even thumbnails.
Their credit packs are:
- 1,500 credits for $3
- 5,000 credits for $10
- 25,000 credits for $50
- 50,000 credits for $100
The good thing is that the credits never expire.
Pros and Cons of EWWW Image Optimizer
Just like any plugin, EWWW has its strengths and weaknesses. Here is what I found:
- Provides good compression of images.
- Offers lazy loading and image resizing.
- Compresses images on your server.
- Unlimited compression using the free option.
- Does not offer WebP conversion in free version.
- Cannot define the compression level in free version.
- Overly complex in the setup process.
- Pricey for unlimited site use.
Compare this with Imagify that will allow you to use the image optimization plugin on unlimited sites with unlimited image compression at just $9.99 a month. Its interface is way simpler, and it allows you to select the optimization level.
The only thing is that all optimizations happen off site, which means the optimization happens on Imagify servers, which is good because your server will not deal with the load. Also, it does not offer a CDN, but it can integrate with any CDN.
Do I recommend EWWW Image Optimizer?
NO! It is complex to handle for noobs. If you are a seasoned hunter, that is a different story. However, you are always welcome to try it out.
If you do not have the budget, you can go for the free version but that is not going to give you WebP support. Do not forget that Google wants you to use WebP. So, that support is kind of mandatory.
Also, it is slightly pricier when it comes to unlimited site usage.
Compression wise, it does a good job, but if you need more compression power, the paid version is the only option you will have.
Finally, it is up to you whether you want to go ahead and use this plugin or not. If you ask me, I find the free version a useless piece of junk. The paid version gives a few goodies to work with, but the pricing is a concern.