Four Free Tools for Website Image Optimization: Pros & Cons
By Kimberly Munch, Account Executive, Strategic Marketing
Are slow-loading images compromising the speed of your website? Like most marketers, you want the best quality website images without negatively impacting speed. And, you want to accomplish this goal without spending a lot of time or money.
Luckily, there are several image optimization programs that can be an easy fix for slow load speed. I tested out four, free image compression tools that designers and marketers can use to ensure their image file sizes are kept in check.
Using different stock images and logos from our own site, I ran them through each of the tools.
Tool #1: Optimizilla
Optimizilla has a very simple interface. Their online image optimizer uses a combination of optimization and lossy compression algorithms, which means certain information is permanently eliminated from each file to shrink JPEG and PNG images to minimum possible size while keeping the required level of quality.
Pros: One cool feature of this tool is that it allows up to 20 images to compress at one time. This will help save time when it comes to large photo galleries or product pages, which can slow down the site significantly if the image size is too large. For fun, I uploaded 10 images all over 2 MB to see how fast it would take to compress. The results? Less than a minute.
It probably took me longer to find the images than it did for it to work its magic. Another nice feature is the quality slider that allows you to adjust the amount of image compression you want based on how it looks. Lowering the quality of the image creates a smaller size file, and if the photo looks okay at 60% quality, you’d be better off going with the smaller size. You can download all 20 images to your desktop at the same time, which is another nice feature.
Cons: There wasn’t much downside to the free version of this tool.
Tool #2: TinyPNG
TinyPNG also has a very simple interface, with the option to drag and drop photos at the top of the page. Users also have the option to pay a subscription fee to use the TinyPNG Pro tool, which allows for all files to be uploaded at once (25 MB upload limit).
Pros: Tiny PNG also allows for 20 images at a time, with a convenient ‘Export to Dropbox’ or “download all” option.
Cons: After uploading, there wasn’t a way to adjust the quality of the image after it was compressed. The photo size limit of 5MB prevented a lot of the photos I wanted to compress from going through, I just got the “File is too large” warning. The paid version would solve that issue, but with the idea of saving money in mind, Optimizilla is the better of the two.
Tool #3: Compressor.io
Moving on to the third tool, Compressor.io had a different layout than the first two sites, but still was easy to use. This online tool promises to drastically reduce the size of images and photos while maintaining the high quality.
Pros: After compressing the image, there are several options to save it. You can save to your Google Drive, Dropbox or download the file to your computer. The quality of the image was very crisp after the compression had gone through, just like they had promised on the site.
Cons: The downside to using compressor.io is that you can only upload one image file at a time, which would become tedious when working with large amounts of files. Also, users aren’t able to adjust the quality after uploading—it’s set to a specific percentage.
Tool #4: Kraken
The Kraken tool has several nice features that differentiate it from the previous tools. You can import images straight from your desktop, google drive, Dropbox, or by using a zip file with all of your images. That being said, it does have a very tight limit on the size of files you can upload with the free version.
Pros: The options for uploading images were convenient and time-saving because I was able to upload 20 images from a folder straight from my desktop.
Cons: The free version of Kraken has a file size limit of 1MB which was a major downside. Almost all of the images I wanted to compress were 2MB at the smallest which made this tool the least helpful in its free form. Also, all of the cool features like image resizing and URL paster and page cruncher are only available in the pro version.
After testing all four tools, I found that Optimizilla was my favorite based on the simple interface and the image quality customization, which was easy to use. I was curious to see how big of a difference the images would have on page load time so I took the five images I resized and created a page on an Expression Engine site with just the non-optimized photos. I then changed the pictures to the optimized version and ran the page load time again. It went from 3.548 seconds to 1.835 seconds, which is almost half of the original load time. Goes to show how much of an impact images can have on a page’s load time.