Using WebP Files in WordPress: A Guide

Image optimization is crucial for website speed, and Google’s WebP files offer an easy alternative for WordPress sites. WebP is an image file format created by Google’s web performance team to create smaller and faster images. It features both lossy and lossless compression methods, with WebP lossless images being 26% smaller than PNGs and WebP lossy images being 25-34% smaller than JPEGs. Companies like YouTube and eBay are already using WebP to power their sites.

WebP is important because images account for over 64% of an average web page’s weight, making it crucial to choose a robust image optimization method and format. The smaller the page, the faster it loads, pleasing both visitors and search engines like Google, which considers page speed a ranking factor.

While not all modern browsers support WebP yet, there is a method to deliver WebP files to supported browsers and JPG/PNGs as a fallback. This means that unsupported browsers won’t see broken images, but rather the original format. Chrome has the majority of the browser market share at over 70%, but it’s important to check your own visitor data to see what browsers they use.

To use WebP files in WordPress, two plugins from KeyCDN can be used: Optimus Image Optimizer and WordPress Cache Enabler. Optimus Image Optimizer is a lossless image compression plugin that converts images to WebP, while WordPress Cache Enabler is a caching plugin that allows you to serve WebP to supported browsers. Once enabled, WebP creates an additional image for everything that is converted, while PNG/JPG is still needed for unsupported browsers. Optimus does lossless compression on PNG and JPGs.

Comparisons between JPG to WebP and PNG to WebP show that WebP resulted in an 85.87% decrease in average image size for JPG and a 42.8% decrease for PNG. WebP is easy to implement and offers drastically smaller image file sizes. It also has the ability to use lossless compression, meaning there’s no noticeable quality loss. For those looking to speed up WordPress, WebP can be a great solution.

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