Images affect the look and feel of your website as well as the information conveyed. Let’s take a look at how WordPress handles images, as well as how to manage them if you maintain a WordPress website.
Images on the front end of WordPress
On the front end of your website—the part the general public can see—images are used in two different contexts.
First, they’re used as part of the theme. While technically a theme can be created without any images, that’s fairly rare. The images gives your website its look and feel, including textures, background images, bullets in lists, etc.
Second, they’re used as part of the content. We’ll look in a minute at how WordPress creates all the image sizes needed by its system, but just know that WordPress core has support for responsive images built in. That means when you insert an image into a page or post, it will automatically have the code and images necessary to adjust to various size devices, as long as the theme also supports it. That includes mobile devices, tablets, etc.
Images on the back end of WordPress
The media library is where you manage all your images in WordPress. It’s accessible when you go to insert an image in a post, page, or various other areas. But it’s also accessible over on the left menu, under Media.
When you upload an image, WordPress will make a few different sizes so it will be handled correctly on the front-end.
WordPress core creates three image sizes, which you can customize in Settings > Media:
- Thumbnail size
- Medium size
- Large size
That same page lets you organize your uploads into month- and year-based folders.
In addition to those image sizes, plugins and themes may create additional sizes. All these sizes are options when you insert images into pages or posts. But WordPress or your theme may use them somewhere else as well.
Tips for managing images in WordPress
Here are some quick tips for managing images in WordPress.
Deleting an image from a post, page, widget, or elsewhere? If that was the only place the image was used, be sure to go into the media library and delete it there as well. Otherwise it’s still taking up space.
Changing the size of your thumbnails, medium, or large images in the settings? While that impacts future uploads as well as how past uploads are displayed, it doesn’t impact the actual size of the image files uploaded in the past. Use the Regenerate Thumbnails plugin after you’ve made the change in settings.
Worried your images might be taking up too much space? Use a lossless image compression plugin. That means it will make your images take up less disk space while not affecting the quality. Smush Image Compression and Optimization is a very popular and reputable option.
Another great tip for saving space? Resize your images before you upload. WordPress always keeps the original image, so resize it before you even upload it. For example, if your website’s content area is never more than 1200 pixels wide, always resize your images to no more than 1200 pixels wide before uploading.
And there you go! Hopefully you feel better prepared to mange images on your WordPress website. Consider yourself an image management pro!