We have been taking particularly close attention to Googles Page Speed Insights tool and focusing on image files size. Google is fond of promoting its own webp format by telling web developers and WordPress admins that they should “Serve Images in Next-Gen Formats”.
There are two problems with this assertion. First .webp is still not supported by WordPress, some browsers and many graphic tools
Second, while .webp does appear to be a superior (supports transparancy, annimations and is very small) graphic file format it is not radically better than .jpgs for file size after the images have been properly optimized.
Googles Page Speed Insights page had provided links to several image optimization tools for WordPress (which was appreciated), but it led us to trying the very popular Smush It plugin. It turns out that while Smush has more than 1 million installs, according to WordPress it only reduces graphic size by half of what it is capable of …wait for it …wait for it… unless you pay. It will also only process 50 graphics at a time …wait for it …wait for it… unless you pay.
We ended up tripping on a FREE tool named Robin Image Optimizer (no, we are not being paid and are not associated with them!). The Robin plugin was super easy to use, completely free and processes all 9000 graphics we had on the WordPress site in question. Even better, Robin optimized our images at a rate twice that of Smush It. Robin reduced our images and graphics by an ADDITIONAL 30% after we had run them through Smush It:
The moral of the story is that with Smush It and others do a good job at image optimization in WordPress, Robin did it better, easier and for free.