If someone asks me to name that one element of a web page that can be termed as ‘THE DEVIL,’ I will point fingers at the images.
Yes, they make up maximum chunk of a web page’s weight, and they are biggest culprit when it comes to slowing down your website.
So, you need to optimize your images and make them lightweight.
If you do not believe my words, you can at least take these folks seriously. They say that images make up 21% of the page weight. Of course, videos comfortably beat images in terms of adding weight, but the thing is that not every web page may have videos.
You can find images on every page though!
You need to optimize images.
There are several ways of optimizing your images.
The most effective way, I believe, is to follow a two-prong approach that includes:
- Optimize the image using a photo editing software like Photoshop. This allows you to not only reduce the image size significantly, but also, resize the images effectively use specific dimensions.
- The next step is to use a WordPress plugin for image optimization.
You can find details of optimizing images using Photoshop in this article. Once you learn the basics of Photoshop, it should not be difficult at all, to quickly resize and optimize images.
After you are done with Photoshop editing (do not worry, you do not need to be a pro for simple image processing), you can use a plugin for optimizing the image further without losing quality or slight decrease in quality.
Trust me, a simple blog, you do not need to add high resolution images. If the image is intelligible, people will get your message loud and clear. High resolution images make more sense for photography sites or sites that deal with technical and medical drawings.
Now, talking of image optimization plugins, you can find dozens of them. There are popular names like EWWW image optimizer, WP Compress, and more. Unfortunately, most of them are quite expensive, and some of them just make the pricing structure too complex!
If you want something premium with simplified pricing and stunning results, Imagify is the gamechanger you are looking for.
So, what is Imagify? How does it work? How much does it cost? Can it provide WebP images? Does it offer a CDN?
I will answer all these questions in this article.
Gear up and read on!
What is Imagify?
Imagify is an image optimization plugin that will compress the images you upload to your website and reduce their size without a visible drop in quality. This service can optimize the following image formats:
- GIF (animated and non-animated)
If your website has images that you do not upload for posts (images used by themes and plugins), the plugin will optimize them as well. You can define custom folders where images can be found and have the plugin optimize them, too!
How Does Imagify Work?
The modus operandi of Imagify is too simple.
You start by installing the WordPress plugin and activating it using the API they provide you with.
Once that is done, you need to select the compression level you and define the extra folders containing images that you want the plugin to optimize.
Now, whenever you upload an image to your WordPress site through the media library, the plugin will copy the image and send it to the Imagify servers. The optimization takes place on the server where the advanced algorithms of Imagify will compress the image size depending on the compression level you selected.
Once the compression is done, the server will send back the image and the plugin will replace the original image with the optimized one. The original images are put in a dedicated folder. If you want to restore the original images, you can do so from that backup folder.
For the images that you do not upload and for those that you uploaded before installing the plugin, Imagify has a bulk optimization feature available that will compress all images at once.
You can also go to your media library and select individual images and compress them. If there are too many images, opting for bulk optimization is always a desirable choice.
Type of Compression
Imagify offers three types of compression. They are:
This option will perform lossless optimization. The optimized image will be slightly smaller in size compared to the original image. The optimized image will be pixel perfect and there will be no visible change in the image quality.
This method of compression is perfect if:
- You are running a photography site.
- Your website serves technical drawings.
- Your website deals with medical diagrams.
In this method, there will be no loss of meta data (such as camera model, exposure value, focal length and so on). If you decompress the compressed image, all data will be retained.
This method uses lossy compression where unnecessary meta data from the images are removed. The compression level is high enough to reduce the image size significantly, but there will not be any visible change in image quality.
Most of the times the changes cannot be noticed. Only a very trained eye can understand the differences. This option is perfect for most of the blogs and websites on the Internet.
In this format, Imagify achieves maximum compression. It also uses lossy compression, but there is a visible drop in quality. You can easily spot the difference between the original and the optimized images if you compare them side-by-side.
If you are using large and heavy-weight images, you should consider using this compression method. Though there will be a drop in image quality, the standalone optimized images will still be soothing enough to eyes. You will not see pixelated images.
So, choose your compression level accordingly.
In my experience, I did not notice a dramatic change in quality even though I used the Ultra compression, but still, I will always recommend that you test the results before settling for one.
Imagify Ease of Use
Imagify is extremely easy to use. You start by installing the plugin. Once you install it, it will ask you to register and get the API key. If you already have an account, you can enter the API key in the given field.
Once you provide the API key, your account will be activated and ready for use.
The Interface: General Settings
After the activation, this is the screen that you will see:
On the dashboard you can see the API key and the account type. If you are using the free account, the account type will be STARTER.
On the top you can see three levels of optimization. You can select the one you need. If you are confused about how the compression will work out, you can click on the button that reads ‘Try the Visual Comparison.’
It will show you as sample image that you can compare with the optimized images using different compression levels.
You will notice three other settings with explanations. Just in case you are unable to read the small letter in the image above, I will give quick explanations:
Auto-Optimize Images on Upload
This option is selected by default, and you should not alter it. With this option turned on, the plugin will optimize every image you upload using the media library uploader.
Backup Original Images
This option is also selected by default. Do not tamper with it unless you really do not want to keep backups. Keeping backups will allow you to restore the original images. Also, if you deactivate that feature, you can carry out another level of optimization if the need arises.
Once you try to deactivate it, you will see the following notice:
I will recommend that you always maintain a backup. If your hosting package has low storage, it will be better to upgrade your account. Alternatively, you can download the backups from the server to your local hard disk storage on your computer.
Keep All EXIF Data from Your Images
This is turned off by default. Unless you are a photographer who needs such data as exposure, shutter speed, geo-location, ISO, and so on, you should remove all those data.
For normal blogs that usually get their images from Google (not a desirable choice) or from free stock photography sites, keeping EXIF data does not make sense. You should remove all EXIF data.
The Interface: Optimization Settings
Scrolling further down, you will see the optimization options. Here is what the segment looks like:
The first option in the Optimization settings is to decide whether you want WebP image or not.
You SHOULD USE WEBP format.
You need to select the method for serving WebP. There are two methods:
- Rewrite Rules – This is usually not recommended even though it is the uncomplicated way. In this method, the plugin will modify the .htaccess file. The reason why this is not recommended is that this method cannot display WebP images when you use Cloudflare or any other CDN.
- <picture> Tag: This is the desired method because in this case, the images will be served from a CDN. The only problem, however, is that it will modify the code of your website and replace <img> tag with <picture> tag. Modifying the code may break your website. So, test your website thoroughly.
Talking of CDN, if you are not using a reverse proxy CDN like Cloudflare, you have to provide the CDN URL for any traditional pull CDN (examples Bunny CDN, KeyCDN, StackPath etc.) because they usually provide a custom CNAME setup.
If you are using Cloudflare (that does not provide a custom CNAME setup), you can leave the CDN URL field empty and still select the <picture> tag method.
Now the question is, ‘why should you use WebP?’
That is because WebP is a modern image format that Google released several years ago. This format is much more lightweight compared to the traditional JPG, PNG, or GIF images. Using WebP version speeds up your website even further. So, use WebP.
Word of Caution: If you are using Cloudflare (Pro plan or higher that supports WebP conversion) and you have activated WebP in your Cloudflare settings, make sure that you turn off WebP feature offered by Imagify.
Here you will find the option for resizing large images to a certain size. The default is set to 2560 pixels in width (height is flexible). Leave it as is. The largest thumbnail size that WordPress creates in 2048 pixels in width. So, you should never set a size less than 2048 pixels in width.
WordPress creates assorted sizes of the images you upload. You can selectively optimize those varied sizes, or you can select to optimize all sizes. However, do remember that optimizing different image sizes for the same image will still count towards your Imagify monthly usage quota. I will recommend that you select the first four options (thumbnail, medium, medium_large, and large). However, you are free to select all!
I usually select all because I have a subscription for unlimited image optimization. If you have that plan in place, optimizing all image size is fine.
In this segment you will notice that the plugin will automatically retrieve your theme name and add the folder where theme images are stored. It is usually this: wp-content/themes/your-theme-name.
If you want to add other folders, you can do that simply by clicking on the Add Folders button.
The Interface: Display Options
From here, you can enable a quick access menu in your admin toolbar. This is how it looks like:
If you do not want this quick access menu, you can uncheck the box in the settings area.
When you are done with the main settings you can hit ‘Save Changes’ button, or you can hit the ‘Save & Go To Bulk Optimizer’ button.
There are two more ways of accessing the bulk optimizer. First one is from the quick access menu (you can see that in the above image).
The other option is to take the following path: WordPress Dashboard >> Media >> Bulk Optimizer.
Here is a visual representation:
When you click on the Bulk Optimization option, you will be taken to a new page. This is how the page looks like:
The only settings you need to fiddle around with in this page are select the folders you want to bulk optimize (Media Library and any custom folder you added), select the optimization level, and then hit the IMAGIF’EM ALL button at the bottom.
Now, sit back and wait until the optimization is completed.
That is all! There is nothing else to do with Imagify. It is as simple as that!
Optimizing Images from Media Library
Bulk optimization is definitely a way to go. But if you want to optimize individual images, you can do that from the media library.
Go to your media library from Dashboard >> Media >> Library.
If the library is in a grid format, you will get a notification from Imagify, asking you to switch to the list view. Only when you switch to the list view, you will get the options for optimizing individual images.
This is how the notification looks like:
Once you switch to the list mode, the notification will disappear. You will see something like this:
Every optimized image will show the original savings and new file size. You can click on View Details dropdown to see further details like compression level, WebP generation, number of thumbnails optimized, and overall savings.
You will also get the options for reoptimizing using other compression levels, or you can restore the original.
Adding a new image will trigger an automatic optimization. This is what you will see:
If the file you upload is already optimized and it does not require any further optimization, this is the message you will see:
The only time you will see this message is when the selected optimization level cannot optimize it any further without a visible loss in quality. However, you will always get the option of stepping up the optimization level (if you are not already using the Ultra level) to the other options available.
You will see the same message if no optimization is possible even after stepping up the optimization level.
In the above example, notice that the only next level of optimization available is Ultra. But when I click on it and try to reoptimize it with Ultra, it returns the same message:
Notice how the Ultra option now disappears!
How Well Does It Optimize?
You can see that yourself. Here is a direct comparison of two versions – Original and Ultra-Optimized:
Image Size: 474.95 KB
Image Size: 333.93 KB
The image size was reduced by well over a 100 KB using Imagify’s Ultra level of compression. If you look at the optimized image alone, you will not even understand anything. However, if you compare the original with the optimized image, you will notice a significant quality drop. Still, the optimized image is perfectly suitable for blog usage.
That is the beauty of using an image optimizer plugin.
Imagify has a very straightforward pricing policy. There is no credit system or one-time credit purchase, or credit roll-over stuff.
There are merely three plans to work with. They are:
It is a free plan where you get 20 MB of monthly quota. That translates to around 200 images with each image averaging at 102.4 KB. If you exceed that quota, you will be charged at $8 per additional GB of image optimization. If you do not want to pay, you must wait for quota renewal in the next month.
This plan will give you 500 MB of quota per month that translates to 5,000 images per month. This plan will cost you $4.99 a month. For every additional GB of image optimization, the company will charge you $5. If you do not want to pay extra, you need to wait for quota renewal in the next month.
This plan costs $9.99 a month and there is no limit to the number of images you can optimize. However, this is subject to fair use which is defined as abnormally high number of image optimizations. In such a case, they will contact you and discuss a custom plan. If you do not agree, they will restrict the service usage.
Pros and Cons of Imagify
- It has an amazingly simple interface.
- It follows a fire-and-forget model where you configure the plugin once and you are good to go! No further human interference is required.
- It does not have a complex pricing structure.
- It offers a free plan suitable for new blogs.
- The optimized images are great, and you will mostly never see a visual quality drop.
- It creates WebP images and offers both available method of delivery.
- It does not offer an integrated CDN like WP Compress or ShortPixel.
- The free quota is exceptionally low, especially when someone wants to optimize all the image sizes that WordPress creates.
Do I recommend Imagify?
Yes! I do!
Imagify is one of the finest image optimization plugins you can find. Its incredibly simple interface is rookie friendly, and it is a low-cost option. It optimizes the images really well and even creates WebP formats effortlessly.
If your website uses images (which most likely it does), Imagify should be on your bucket list of plugins to use. In fact, it is so good and simple that I recommend using Imagify over any other image optimization plugin.
No, they do not offer any free trial. Instead, they have a free plan. You can use it as long as you want.
Yes, you can do that anytime! Upgrades and downgrades happen on a prorated basis. The moment you upgrade or downgrade, the new quota applies without delay.
Yes, you can cancel anytime. Just shoot an email to them at email@example.com and they will cancel your account.
No, they do not have a refund policy in place! So, if you already paid for an annual plan, it is imperative that you use the service for the full term. However, do not forget to shoot them an email in advance to make sure that they cancel your account before renewal.
You can connect unlimited websites. The quota will be evenly shared among all websites. If you have many websites, it is better that you go for their INFINITE plan.