There has been a lot of talk lately about ways to speed a website up. If you’re a WordPress user you’ve likely heard lively debates over WP Supercache vs. W3 Total Cache and other plugins. If not then you’ve undoubtedly looked into speeding up your website any way you can to meet Google’s mandate of faster sites in hopes of getting a ranking boost in their mobile index. Either way, if it has become an obsession for you to work on your webpage speed or your client’s page load speed, you might have heard of the tool Kraken.io.
This tool came recommended to me from a few colleagues and after many similar tools (that claim to lower the file size of an image but not it’s quality) not delivering what I had hoped for, I was not easily convinced. Before deciding to use any tool, I want to have hard evidence that it works, and in this case that means that it makes the pages load much faster. I devised a simple experiment using the home page of the Winner Winner Chicken Dinner website. For this page we use large hd images sourced from the NASA Unsplash.com page. While they look gorgeous and are capable of being used commercially, they come with the downside of a large file size. When we put those images on the site we did some cropping and resizing in hopes of lowering the file sizes some to help the page speed load times, this only helped a little, leaving our home page load times higher than I would like.
For the Kraken.io experiment we would take measurements using 2 different page speed tools before we used it and then again after the home page images had been run through the program. We measured the Average page speed and took the lowest in each set using the Webpagetest and GT Metrix tools. These frequently show very different load times and were selected to see if page load speed increased on both (note you can also use Pingdom, I recommend using more than 1 for your own experiments).
- Geolocation: Lincoln, Nebraska
- Browser: IE 11
- Connection Type: Cable
GT Metrix Settings
- Geolocation: Dallas, Texas
- Browser: Chrome 54.0.2840.71 (desktop)
- Connection Type: Unthrottled Connection
Before running the experiment I gathered data about the load speed of the home page. Those results are below.
- Webpagetest.org Speed Check 1 – 21.85
- Webpagetest.org Speed Check 2 – 21.23
- Webpagetest.org Speed Check 3 – 20.38
- Webpagetest.org Avg Speed – 21.15 seconds
- GT Metrix Speed Check 1 – 2.1 seconds
- GT Metrix Speed Check 2 – 2.3 seconds
- GT Metrix Speed Check 3 – 2.2 seconds
- GT Metrix Avg Speed – 2.2 seconds
- Webpagetest.org File Size – 11.12mb
- GT Metrix File Size – 10.7mb
These are the mesaurements after I used the Kraken.io tool on all of the main images unique to the home page of the website. No other images were optimized with the tool. Kraken told me reduced the file size an average of 60%-68% per image. If that is true then we should see significant gains in the page load speed.
- Webpagetest.org Speed Check 1 – 10.63 seconds
- Webpagetest.org Speed Check 2 – 8.97 seconds
- Webpagetest.org Speed Check 3 – 7.70 seconds
- Webpagetest.org Avg Speed – 9.1 seconds
- GT Metrix Speed Check 1 – 1.2 seconds
- GT Metrix Speed Check 2 – 1.0 seconds
- GT Metrix Speed Check 3 – 1.1 seconds
- GT Metrix Avg Speed – 1.1 seconds
- Webpagetest.org File Size – 4.20mb
- GT Metrix File Size – 3.90mb
It seems clear that Kraken.io delivers on their promise. Below is a side by side view of the home page using the original cropped down photo on our home page and the one after Kraken was applied to the image. Virtually no loss to quality at all. We’re now using this to help clients with image file size issues in our quest for lightening fast loading sites.