Change Image Sizes on a WordPress Site

by updated 2012/02/08

specify image sizeNo this is not a how to post.  It is an “I wish I could figure out how to” post!  I have been trying over the past couple of months to make this site a bit more efficient.  Using tools like Google’s Page Speed, I have look for areas that could be improved and tried to change things for the better.  As I posted a few weeks ago, it has been a long, slow, and at times, frustrating process.  I have been able to make some good changes, but I have been unsuccessful in other areas.

The biggest disappointment has been using the W3 Total Cache plugin.  It is a great plugin in theory and once you have spent the time to get it configured best for your site, it really does improve the performance of a website.  But when it misbehaves the consequences are dire.  I had it up and running for weeks with no trouble, then one day it just took down the whole site.  I had not been on the site for several days before it happened, so it was not something I did.  I just received an email that this site had been AWOL for several hours and when I checked indeed it was.  All I could get was a blank, white page with the message “unfortunately an error occurred while creating the minify cache”.  I had to use FTP to delete several W3 Total Cache files to get the site back up.  Needless to say, that plugin is history here.  Too bad as it really helped while it was working correctly.

But, that is not the main vent of this post today.  What has frustrated me the most in this whole process is the inability to find a way to fix what several sources say is a big problem with images here.  Over the years I have just uploaded large images and then re-sized them to fit each specific use.  I re-sized the images dynamically, using HTML within the posts and allowed users to see the full sized image if they clicked on the photo.  Apparently this is a huge resource drain and all images on a website should have specified dimensions.  I think I can still upload a larger image if I want to and link the image in the post to that url.  That way people can still see the full size image if they desire but the page loads faster with the smaller image embedded in the post.  The problem is that there are hundreds of images here and there is no viable way to go through and change them all individually.

As most of the images with this problem are images that stretch across the width of my main content column, it seems that there should be a way to do this automatically.  If I know that I want each of those images to match the 540 px width of the content column, them why can’t a way be found to search for all images larger than that and then proportionately re-size them to fit the column exactly?  Seems like it should be possible but many people much smarter than me have told me it is not.  Needless to say I have not been able to prove them wrong by figuring it out myself.  Of course, going forward, I have changed away from using HTML to re-size images but I really want to fix all the old posts.  Very frustrating.

Will Sig
1 RK Henderson

As a blog reader (as well as writer), I would be careful not to go too far overboard on this, Will. Yeah, load times are important. But if you sacrifice content or reliability for speed, you won’t come out ahead. I much appreciate the ability to click through to a larger image online. I’ll even command-click to sidestep the “slide show” display, which is often what you get in a Blogger blog (such as my own), so I can see the full image in its own window.

If I can’t get a full-sized image, or have to dance around to get it, I’m not a happy reader.

While we’re at it, things that enhance the experience for wireless users and exclude dialer-uppers entirely (Flash comes to mind), are not popular at my house either. Just tossing that in, for general consumption.

It’s funny how ordinary things, like images, can be big problems in the blogosphere. For example, Blogger steadfastly refuses to let transparent images remain transparent; they load over an ugly block of white. A few hackers have posted large chunks of template-customising HTML that they say will correct the problem, but one hates to go at the deep code with a chainsaw. It might not even work, or screw up something else; after all, it’s hacker code, not editorial.

Anyway, best of luck with your campaign. I get a lot of design ideas for my blog from yours. (For example, I just added CommentLuv, because I liked it here. Something else that turns out to be a little hamhanded on Blogger.)

Robin

Rusty Ring: Reflections of an Old-Timey Hermit.
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2 Tony McGurk

I always do my comics to 1000px wide which seems to still give a good size when clicked to full size & they still seem to load quickly on the post page. I used the same cache as you on my self hosted site for a while & it kept causing problems with how the page displayed. Others said the same thing so it wasn’t just my computer’s view f it. Disable it & problem went. I gave it the flick too.
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3 Binky

Do you mean you want to re-size the images with a plugin or something within WP, or do you want to re-size the images on your computer and then reload them?

I use an image viewer (XnView) that will batch-process images and can resize them.
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4 Jan

Thank you for your comments

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