5x Image Compression Boost With Minimal Quality Loss

5x Image Compression Boost With Minimal Quality Loss

WPMU DEV’s award-winning image optimization plugin’s new Ultra Smush unlocks unprecedented image compression levels up to 5x greater than Super Smush, while retaining impressive image quality!

Is your WordPress site filled with images? Do you want those images to load on your pages faster than a lamborghini speeding on the Autobahn and compress them tighter than a full stack developer’s schedule? And do all this with almost no discernible loss of image quality?

Then it’s time to activate Ultra Smush.

In this article:

Let’s get straight into what really matters…

5x More Savings? Here Are The Results

Before we get into how to activate and use the new Ultra Smush image compression level and why it can deliver even more impressive results than our already impressive Super Smush feature, let’s share some of the results of using Ultra Smush.

First, here are the results of performing a bulk smush on a test site with 1,000+ large-ish images with only Super Smush activated (CDN, Local WebP, and Lazy Load are inactive)…

Image compression savings using Super Smush.
Before Ultra Smush: Image compression savings using Super Smush only.

After activating Ultra Smush, we then ran the test again to see if we could squeeze anything more out of an already image-optimized site.

And it did! Ultra Smush squeezed out more than 5x times savings…

Bulk Smush test results using Smush's Ultra mode
After Ultra Smush: More than 5x times savings on an already optimized site!

Early testers reported getting similar results.

Super Smush vs Ultra Smush
Results: Super Smush (Before) vs Ultra Smush (After)

And here are just some of the comments we received from early testers about Ultra Smush’s impact on image quality:

  • “Ultra is awesome. It was hard to find the difference between qualities. Quality loss is negligible. I am impressed!”
  • “It looks pretty good, only if I look really close I can see that some of the colors are not as vibrant, and that some edges are not as sharp as on the original.”
  • “On a medium size image with lots of details, you gotta look very close to see slight color saturation differences. On a big image with a solid but gradient background, transitions between gradients are more visible and the main object seems lees sharp. You really need to look very close and expect it. Though it’s not for a photo site that requires superb quality. All in all: pretty impressive.”

Our plugin development team also did extensive testing, comparing Ultra Smush’s results with Ewww image optimizer and TinyPNG by running DSSIM tests (a quality comparison metric that shows variation from the original image – the lower the score, the better).

Ultra Smush outperformed the competition in most tests and came out the overall winner for both compression savings…

Ultra Smush tests - Average File Size Reduction
File Size Reduction testing shows that Ultra Smush is the clear winner!

…and image quality (lower DSSIM values = better image quality).

Ultra Smush tests - Average DSSIM Value
DSSIM testing shows Ultra Smush delivers superior image savings and better quality over the competition.

To be clear, using Ultra Smush will result in Lossy compression, so while you should not expect the original quality, the results will still be ultra-impressive.

How To Enable Smush’s Ultra Mode

Ultra Smush is not just a new feature, it’s an entirely  new compression level for Bulk Smushing images.

Ultra mode is a feature of Smush Pro that replaces the Super Smush toggle on the free version of the plugin with additional “Smush Mode” options.

Switching to Ultra mode is ultra easy. If you have Smush Pro installed on your site, simply navigate to the Bulk Smush Settings screen and select Ultra (Higher Compression)by clicking on the button, then save your settings.

Choose the level of compression for bulk smushing images that best suits your needs.

Smush Mode offers three compression levels for Bulk Smush settings:

  • Basic – Choose this option for minimal file size reduction (low savings),  pixel-perfect lossless compression of original image quality, and negligible impact on speed.
  • Super – For faster page loads, select this setting for substantial file size reduction with excellent image clarity. Super Smush provides up to 2x compression savings for your images (lossy compression).
  • Ultra – Select this compression option for professional-grade image compression. Ultra Smush provides compression levels up to 5x greater than Super, while preserving impressive image quality.

After enabling Ultra Smush in your plugin settings, you can monitor results from The Hub’s Performance tab.

The Hub: Performance Tab - Ultra Smush
View Ultra Smush optimization results inside The Hub.


  • If you would rather continue optimizing images using the Basic (lossless) or Super Smush settings, just select those Compression Level options instead.
  • If you enable Ultra Smush on a site where Smush is already running, remember to re-check all images and perform a new Bulk Smush to benefit from further optimization savings.
Bulk Smush - Recheck Images
After enabling Ultra Smush, rerun Bulk Smush to optimize your site even further.

How Does Ultra Smush Compare To Super Smush?

While Super Smush provides up to 2x faster image optimization with virtually no visible loss in quality, Ultra Smush’s new compression engine offers up to 5 times file size reduction to achieve exceptional compression results.

Note: Currently, Ultra Smush improves JPEG images only. Features to improve PNG images will be added in future versions of the plugin.

To learn more about Ultra Smush, refer to the Smush plugin documentation.

Why Image Compression Is A Big Deal

If you are just getting started with WordPress optimization, then it’s important to know that using image compression on websites offers several significant benefits that enhance overall user experience and site performance, such as:

Faster Loading Speeds

Compressed images are smaller in size, which means they take less time to load when someone visits your WordPress website. Faster loading speeds improve user satisfaction and reduce bounce rates. Additionally, page loading speed is a crucial factor for SEO, as search engines tend to prioritize faster-loading websites in their search results.

Improved User Experience

When images load quickly, users are more likely to stay engaged with your content. High-quality, compressed images ensure that visitors can access the visual elements of your website without waiting for prolonged load times. This positive experience can lead to increased user retention and higher conversion rates.

Bandwidth Savings

Compressed images consume less bandwidth, making your website more efficient, especially for users with limited data plans or slower internet connections. This can be particularly important for mobile users, as they often have restricted data allowances.

Reduced Server Load

Smaller image sizes translate to reduced server load, as the server needs to process and transmit less data for each image request. This can help prevent performance issues during peak traffic times and reduce hosting costs.

Higher SEO Rankings

Google and other search engines consider page loading speed as one of the ranking factors. Faster loading times, achieved through image compression, can positively impact your website’s SEO and potentially lead to higher search engine rankings.

Ease of Backup and Restoration

Smaller image files are quicker to backup and restore, making it easier to manage your website’s backups efficiently.

Accessibility Considerations

Faster loading times benefit all users, including those with disabilities who may rely on screen readers or have limited bandwidth access.

The easiest way to implement image compression on WordPress websites is to use a plugin like Smush, which can be easily installed and configured to handle image compression and optimization automatically as you upload media to your WordPress site (both internally to the Media Library and external media directories) without compromising visual quality.

Choose Ultra Smush For Superior Image Optimization

As mentioned earlier, Ultra Smush is a Smush Pro feature. If you’re currently using the free Smush plugin, consider becoming a WPMU DEV member and start enjoying the benefit of extra savings and performance improvements, plus access to the most robust “all-in-one” WordPress management platform available anywhere.

So, if your aim is to significantly reduce image file sizes and automate the entire process, the solution is ultra simple…enable Ultra Smush on all your WordPress sites and experience an optimization boost of up to 5x in image compression savings and impressive image quality.

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