Serious website owners spend hours perfecting their website’s appearance, agonizing over the right theme, plugins, logo, and color scheme. This is important stuff, too: an aesthetically pleasing website creates a great first impression, and that makes visitors more likely to spend time — and money — on your website.
But there’s one element of your site’s design, perhaps more than any other, that can make a good-looking website look great: Beautiful images.
Images really can make or break a website. To prove my point, take a look at any WordPress theme demo. Most theme developers pick high-quality stock images, like those found on Unstock, to enhance their theme’s main features. That’s why they look so visually impressive, and that’s one of the differences well-chosen images can make.
Today, I want to show you the easiest way to add stunning Unstock images to your website using the Image Elevator for WordPress Plugin.
Now, as WordPress users will know, WordPress already makes it relatively easy to upload and insert images. So why am I recommending a plugin?
Well for a start, Image Elevator makes it quicker and easier to upload images – a simple copy-and-paste job. Beyond that, it’s also an effective tool for cropping, resizing, and compressing your images.
Sound good? Then let me show you how to use the Image Elevator Plugin.
Before we can use the plugin, we need to install it. From the WordPress dashboard, navigate to Plugins > Add New > Upload Plugin. Select the Image Elevator ZIP file from your hard drive, then click Install Now > Activate Plugin.
Next, you’ll need to register the plugin. From the WordPress dashboard, head over to Image Elevator. In the blank field, paste your license key, then click Submit Key.
The whole installation, activation, and registration process should take no more than a few minutes, then you’re ready to use the plugin straight away.
Want to see what the plugin can do? Then allow me to demonstrate the plugin’s five main functions.
Pasting Local Images
The WordPress default procedure for uploading and inserting images into a post is super-easy. It does, however, involve multiple steps — open the WordPress Editor, click Add Media > drag-and-drop your image to upload it > click Insert into Post.
Image Elevator makes it as simple as copying and pasting. Find your image on your hard drive, then click Ctrl+C to copy it.
Next, head to your WordPress editor, and press Ctrl+V to paste. The image is immediately added to your content, and uploaded to your media library for re-use.
Yup, it’s that easy!
You can also use Image Elevator to paste screen grabs directly into the WordPress Editor – this is a useful feature for anyone who uses screenshots in tutorials, like me.
To take a screenshot, Windows users simply press PrtSc. Mac users need to press Command (⌘)-Shift-4.
Next, press Ctrl+V to paste it into the WordPress editor, and away you go!
Pasting Regions – How to Quickly Crop Images
This next feature is by far my favorite.
Before I use an image in my post, I need to make sure it’s cropped down to the right size. Image Elevator can save you loads of time by allowing you to paste “regions” of an image.
Simply open up your favorite image editing software – for example, Photoshop or Paint – and highlight the part of the image you want to add to your content.
Then, copy and paste it directly into the editor.
Neat, huh? And, if you’re forever cropping your images, this feature is a real time-saver.
Beautiful, high-resolution images have relatively large file sizes, and this can slow your website down. Many website owners see this as a small price to pay for a visually stunning website, though — the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. That doesn’t mean you should take a gung-ho approach to adding images, however.
In the past I’ve talked at length about how to speed up your WordPress website. In particular, I recommended using lossless compression to reduce image file size without losing quality, thus keeping the additional baggage to a minimum. By reducing your images’ file size, you’ll ensure your website is as quick as it can be.
In that post, I recommended WPSmush.it as a great image compression plugin. Well, Image Elevator is a viable alternative, supporting its own image compression functionality.
To use Image Elevator’s image compression function, navigate to the WordPress Editor – Posts > Add New. At the top of the screen, next to the Add Media button, you’ll see the Image Elevator icon.
Click this icon to bring up the settings pop-up.
Next, you need to click to activate Image Compression. This will open up two more options.
In the first field, specify the compression threshold. In other words, any images above your specified threshold are automatically compressed when uploaded. If you want all images compressing, make sure you specify a really small file size – for example, 1kb.
In the second field, choose the JPEG quality — the lower the quality, the smaller the file size. It’s up to you how much quality you’re willing to sacrifice to reduce file size, but I recommend somewhere around 80-85%. This keeps your file small with no noticeable drop in quality.
When you’re done, simply click Update Rules. The plugin will automatically compress any images that meet your specified criteria.
You can also use Image Elevator to resize images.
For example, if your website maximum layout is only 800 pixels wide, there’s little point in uploading images that are 1000 pixels wide. Oversized images carry excess weight, plus they increase the burden on your server, which has to resize the images in order to display them correctly.
Fortunately, Image Elevator can help with this, by configuring maximum image dimensions. If an image exceeds the dimensions, the plugin will shrink it down to a more appropriate size.
To configure the resizing functionality, you need to click on the Image Elevator icon again, then activate Image Resizing.
Next, you’ll be given space to specify your maximum image dimensions.
The more important question is how your images are resized.
If you want to maintain your images proportions, leave the Crop to fit box unticked — this will simply scale the image down to your desired dimensions. In my opinion, this is the best option, as your image will look the same, just smaller.
If you decide to tick the Crop to fit option, the plugin will auto-crop the image.
A word of caution: the auto-crop is applied from the center of the image, and this means important parts of the image may be cropped out.
Compare the auto-cropped image below with the resized image above. As you can see, the images look very different, so choose your settings wisely.
If you want to quickly and easily upload images to a WordPress plugin, the Image Elevator plugin adds some really innovative functionality – you can effortlessly crop, resize, and compress beautiful images.
Best of all, however, is the copy-and-paste functionality, allowing you to instantly insert local images, screenshots, and smaller sections of images. The plugin is really easy to use, and comes highly recommended. You can grab it here.
Photo credit: Janne_Amuney