Hackernoon logoWhy AVIF Support in WordPress is Important? by@iamrajeev

Why AVIF Support in WordPress is Important?

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Rajeev Sharma Hacker Noon profile picture

@iamrajeevRajeev Sharma

I am Rajeev Sharma, a technical writer who loves to express vital opinions & thoughts on web optimization & performance.

WordPress is a popular open-source CMS (Content Management System) Developers, designers, digital marketers, and most importantly end-users interact with WordPress on an almost daily basis. One of the most common issues they all have to deal with is the slow web-speed that is very common to WordPress. Various techniques can improve performance, but of all such techniques, businesses should start looking forward to AVIF. AVIF is a new, ultra-efficient image optimization format that developers can easily integrate with a WordPress site to render it super fast and super reliably. 

So, what is AVIF, why does a WordPress site need it, and how can itbe enabled in WordPress?

What is AVIF?

AVIF (AV1 Image File Format) is a next-generation and open-sourced image format built by the Alliance for Open Media on its AV1 format. It generates a highly-compressed image that retains great quality. Most importantly, this format provides a considerable reduction in the image size in contrast to other extensively popular formats like JPEG and WebP. AVIF offers 50% savings in size when compared to JPEG and almost 30% savings in size when compared to WebP

Apart from the size, the AVIF is also competitive when it comes to quality. To better understand the quality characteristics of AVIF, a single image in different formats are compared below- 

Original Test Image (Size: 1.8MB)

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AVIF Image Generated at 40% Max Quality and 30% Minimum Quality with 698KB Size

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WebP Image Generated at 75% Quality with 1.2MB Size

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JPEG Image Generated at 75% Quality with 863KB Size

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Note: To access all the files compared above for a better analysis, you can visit this link.

The above test image of an eagle was specifically selected because it combines low-frequency detail (background) as well as high-frequency detail (eagle). This variation within the image allows easy observation of the changes in the image quality for each format. The tool that has been used for the image conversion is Squoosh as it provides advanced image compressing options and is simple to operate. 

In terms of quality, some grainy effects in the background are observable for all the compressed versions but with JPEG format, there are some bad-looking artifacts and sharp edges in the background. On the other side, the WebP and AVIF are comparatively smooth and easy for the eyes. On further analysis, the AVIF format retains additional details in the core subject of the image i.e. eagle when compared to WebP. 

Looking at these results,  AVIF is the winner in both image quality comparison and minimization of file size. There is no doubt that AVIF possesses the immense potential to accelerate websites by loading images faster while also providing a better user experience. 

Why Does a WordPress Site Need AVIF?

WordPress needs AVIF because of two reasons. First, technical professionals and end-users often struggle with web speed issues that are very common with this CMS. Hence, AVIF can contribute to faster loading because of its incredibly low-size images without causing any dent in quality. The second reason is that WordPress is the most dominant CMS in the world with over 455 million websites in 2020. This means that around 35% of the web is powered by WordPress. Further statistics from WordPress reveal that as of November 2020, over 409 million people view more than 20 billion pages each month. 

The below-shared image from WordPress provides an insight into the live activity across WordPress.com for a fraction of seconds-

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This map is always blinking every other second. There are millions of businesses that rely upon WordPress. Businesses that use WordPress have the responsibility to serve such a gigantic audience with a better user experience. This is possible with fast-loading speed. To improve web-loading speed, image optimization is one of the most reliable and efficient solutions. By optimizing images with the efficient AVIF format, WordPress developers can provide a next-level user-experience to the target audience that will lead to a rise in view-time, engagement, and conversions.  

One should also not forget that the improved web-loading speed also contributes towards a better picture of a website’s core web vitals for a better ranking on the search engine result page. 

However, the most important question is how can AVIF be enabled in WordPress? 

However, the most important question is how can AVIF be enabled in WordPress? 

How to Enable AVIF in WordPress?

Enabling AVIF in WordPress is an easy job when using the right tool - an image CDN. The carefully designed Plugin from ImageEngine is a perfect accessory for this purpose. In the upcoming update of this plugin, it might become capable of automatically optimizing static images into next-generation AVIF format and the browser then would deliver such optimized images on a WordPress site via ImageEngine content delivery network. 

The plugin engages the ImageEngine CDN service to dynamically optimize the images in WordPress specifically for the browser, viewport, and device characteristicsImageEngine aims of the requesting end user. H

the ImageEngine can generate an AVIF image that is specifically tailored and optimized to the end user’s device. This is one of the highly recognized unique selling points of the plugin. 

Some other features that make ImageEngine a better choice than other CDNs have been listed down below- 

  • The optimized images are delivered 30% faster than other content delivery networks in the market. 
  • Up to 80% image payload reduction is achieved without any downside impact on the image quality. 
  • The ImageEngine Image CDN plugin is not only easy to install but easy to configure as well before enabling it. The need for moving or uploading images never arises.
  • It can automatically optimize a diverse range of image formats like PNG, JPG, SVG, BMP, GIF, etc. into next-generation formats like WebP, AVIF, etc. 
  • The images are delivered through a wide global CDN network that extends the support for HTTP, HTTP/2, WAF, and DDoS protection.
  • The ImageEngine Image CDN plugin is compatible with the WordPress Cache Enabler plugin.

The image shared below is an ImageCDN configuration screen reflecting a successful configuration test- 

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Another image shared below is a configuration screen reflecting how to configure ImageEngine with assigned annotations. 

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The technical documentation for WordPress ImageEngine Integration can also be referred to for a step-by-step and detailed understanding. 

Conclusion

It is easy to get started with ImageEngine. The free-trial feature is an advantage for the businesses to explore the true potential of the content delivery network from ImageEngine that helps the websites to have faster web-loading speed, improved SEO ranking, and better sales conversions. The aim of ImageEngine is to help businesses establish concrete relationships with their target user base.

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