A long time ago, I wrote an article talking about how to speed up your photography website by using the Smush.it plugin. This was literally a few months after the company had started and we were hosting less than a 100 websites. As we’ve grown, and as Yahoo! has declined, we started noticing a lot of problems with the Smushit service and the plugin. I mentioned this problem to Jason Cohen of WP Engine and he shared the way they handled the problem. Instead of using the plugin, they had a background process that worked on customers images, thus taking away the need for the plugin to do it’s thing. I thought it was a brilliant idea and asked if he would mind if we did something similar. As we started developing our own solution, we ran into reliability issues with the API. So, we decided to look for other solutions.
I discussed this issue with Jason Seats, one of our investors, and he told us about a similar problem he ran into when he worked as a lab assistant at Sears photo booths. After dropping some serious photo knowledge on us during lunch, we decided to explore the ideas he gave us. Once we had a prototype working, we tried it out on some sites. The results were amazing…
We took a 3.5 GB folder and reduced it down to 2GB without any visible loss.
This image optimization stuff could be considered some sort of secret sauce, but we don’t believe in that. This is a problem everyone has. We want to make WordPress sites load faster, not just on our systems but on the internet as a whole. We’ve benefited immensely from open source, this is our way of giving back. Keeping things open source keeps us honest, and makes us write better code. I’m sure there’s a lot we can do to improve upon it, and speed it up.
Smushkid is available to everyone who hosts their own sites, at http://github.com/zippykid/smushkid . It’s also going live on our Next Generation WordPress Hosting system this week. What this means is that we’ll be able to reduce the image size for your images by 4 times. So if you had a 5MB home page, that had 4MB of images, we’d reduce the page size down to 2MB. That’s MORE than a 50% reduction in page size.
Enough talking, here are some examples..
You can see two originals here on Flickr (links open in new windows).
Now here they are after they’ve been smushed.