These days, keeping image files small to improve your site’s performance is a no-brainer. There are plenty of methods to compress images before uploading them and a few well-known formats for saving them. While you likely have your go-to methods and formats, you may not know about the latest.
If you run a WordPress site, you’re probably familiar with WebP. The WebP format was developed in 2010 by Google and has steadily gained popularity since. Reducing JPEG and PNG files by 25-34% was a game-changer for website owners.
You may need to become more familiar with an image format called AVIF. Released in 2019 by the Alliance for Open Media, AVIF can reduce image sizes even further than WebP. Additionally, the quality of the converted images is better than WebP. The AVIF format is supported by browsers such as Chrome and Firefox, and by the latest version of Safari. In total, more than 76% of browsers already support AVIF, and this percentage is growing all the time.
If you want to get your images as small as possible and make your site load blazingly fast, you need to adopt AVIF. You can start right now with a WordPress plugin called Converter for Media.
Let’s be honest. Compressing images can be a pain. No one likes spending their time crunching photos and trying to keep up the image quality. It would be a lot easier if you could just upload your images to your site and let the software do the heavy lifting.
This is absolutely possible with the Converter for Media plugin.
Converter for Media helps you optimize your images right inside WordPress. You can avoid fumbling around with desktop apps. Simply upload your images to your WordPress site, and the plugin takes care of the rest. The plugin also converts all your existing images — and leaves the original files intact.
Converter for Media is already equipped to compress your images using the AVIF format. If you want to be ahead of the game and start using the latest format available, this plugin will help you achieve that. Your site will load faster, your SEO will improve, and your visitors will thank you by sticking around.
You may be worried about leaving WebP behind too soon. That’s wise, but you can relax because Converter for Media also uses WebP. That means that if a browser doesn’t support AVIF, your site will display the WebP version instead.
Another cool feature of Converter for Media is that your images are converted using a remote server. That means there’s virtually no load on your server, which is super helpful if you’re on a shared hosting plan. There’s no need to wonder if your server meets the technical requirements to convert images to AVIF.
Let’s get into how to reduce your site’s images using the Converter for Media plugin!
Converter for Media is easy to use. We’ll go through the whole setup, from installation to configuration.
Start by downloading the Converter for Media plugin directly from its WordPress.org page.
If you prefer, you can search for the core plugin right from your WordPress site. In the Admin Dashboard, select Plugins>Add New. In the search bar, look for “Converter for Media,” and you’ll see it appear as an option.
You can also purchase a plan for the Pro version of the plugin on their site, which offers additional features.
After you’ve downloaded the plugin zip file, navigate to the Admin Dashboard of your WordPress site. Select Plugins–>Add New. Click Upload Plugin and browse for the .zip file you saved. Click Install Now, then activate it.
In your WordPress admin dashboard’s left-side menu, navigate to Media>Library, where you’ll see a new item called Converter for Media. You can also find it under the Settings menu. Click that, and you’ll see the plugin’s General settings menu.
Before you start blindly converting, you’ll need to make some decisions that affect your conversion size. First, a slider allows you to choose the converted image quality, from lossy to lossless.
Next, you can convert to AVIF, WebP, or both. Note that you’ll need to upgrade to the Pro version to use the AVIF format — WebP is included in the free version. WebP files can be 60% lighter than JPEG or PNG formats, while AVIF is, on average, an additional 33% lighter than WebP.
List of supported directories
You can choose from three directories where files will be converted:
On most WordPress sites, the uploads directory will likely contain the most image files, and I recommend selecting that one by default. It’s also possible to add support for a custom directory, which is handy if you want to house your image files separately from the WordPress default.
Maximum image dimensions
This feature allows you to resize image height and width to maximum dimensions that you set. It will retain the aspect ratio regardless of the height and width values you enter in the fields.
Conversion of new images
You can choose to automatically convert any new images you upload to your Media Library in the future. This is helpful, eliminating a step that you need to remember when uploading images.
Bulk optimization of images
A handy little tree structure shows you all the folders containing images that can be optimized.
You’ll get the best results by converting all your images to both WebP and AVIF formats. This not only guarantees the lowest weight of images but also allows for maximum compatibility across browsers.
Depending on how many images you have to convert, it can take several minutes to hours. After approximately 15 minutes, I converted 10,720 files and reduced the weight by 51% — a savings of 308 MB. This was using the Optimal setting, resizing images to 1200 x 1200 maximum pixels, and converting only files in the uploads directory, which contained several other directories.
The Advanced Settings tab gives you even more control over how your files are processed.
List of supported file extensions
You can select which file types you’d like to have converted and which ones Convert for Media should leave alone.
There are three methods listed: Imagick, GD, and Remote server. I recommend opting for the Remote server option because it reduces the load on your server. It’s also a good option if your own server doesn’t meet the technical requirements for converting your media.
Image loading mode
By default, Converter for Media rewrites your .htaccess file to set how images are loaded on your site. If you have server configuration issues, you can opt for the Pass Thru method, which leaves the .htaccess file alone.
You can enable some additional capabilities for the plugin, including:
- Automatic removal of files in output formats larger than original
- Keep images metadata stored in EXIF or XMP formats
- Enable cron to automatically convert images from outside Media Library
- Log errors while converting to debug.log file
Hey, why would you not want to do this? It’s fun to look and see how much your conversions saved. In fact, let’s talk about that!
How Do You Know It Worked?
There are a couple of ways to tell. First, looking through my media library, I could click an image and see the conversion stats listed.
For one image of the NYC skyline, the results were:
Original file size: 178 KB
Optimized file size: 71 KB (-60%)
Files converted to WebP: 6 (-40%)
Files converted to AVIF: 6 (-61%)
The second method was to use the Inspector in my browser (Firefox) to find the results under the Network tab, then click Images.
I could clearly see one of my images listed with the .png extension intact. The Type column showed that the image was displayed as an AVIF file at 78 kb. Again, this is one of the plugin’s great features — the original file remains intact. This also means that if you removed the plugin, you wouldn’t lose your images.
URLs of Images
Speaking of the original image files staying intact, the image URLs aren’t changed when converting files, either. The plugin performs a redirect to the new file format(s) that’s completely invisible to the visitor. While the URLs aren’t changed, the MIME type will change, as I demonstrated earlier.
The Converter for Media plugin is free to download and use, and you can convert your images to WebP. You need to purchase a Pro Plan to use the AVIF format and take advantage of the superior compression format.
They offer monthly and yearly plans, of which the yearly plans are a better value. The plans are offered by the number of optimized images in tiers:
- 10K/month or 120K/year
- 25K/month or 300K/year
- 70K/month or 840K/year
The numbers represent how many conversion processes can be done, not the number of files. Note that converting to both WebP and AVIF counts as two processes.
If you want to be ready for the next level of image compression, you would be smart to adopt the new AVIF format. While WebP is an excellent format over PNG and JPEG, you can achieve significantly smaller file sizes and site speeds with AVIF.
The good news is that you can have it both ways with the Converter for Media plugin.