It is really important that our system can be run on extremely cheap hosting. That priority precedes all others.
Using All in one WP backup I noticed that my sites were just growing exponentially, eventually getting bigger than the maximum allowed by the free version (huuuuge). After much troubleshooting I found that the image (so-called) optimizer plug-ins I was using just made many different res copies of all the images. I mean, like 10 or more of each.
I had to go through manually each directory and delete them all. The sites would typically go down to around a quarter of the size.
It seems that this image sprawl happens even with the plugins from the CDN services, which is odd. Perhaps we can figure a way to use a CDN without such bloat.
So, we will do image optimization manually. Images we ourselves upload will be optimazed before uploading. Images uploaded by site users will have to be done manually and then replaced at the same path. The typical phone now produces photos that are at least 3 MB each, and could be jpeg’d down to at least 1/10 of that.
The clickforcharity site might be an exception to this because it is a social network and will probably have too many images posted. I’m not sure what to do about this yet but that’s no reason to give in and follow the herd to bloatland and unnecessary expense. Ultimately this will need to have its own custom theme.
Why we don’t need high quality images.
The sites we make have inherent purpose beyond just selling a product. We don’t need to cover mediocrity with clever, snazzy designs because we are not presenting mediocrity. The content itself is compelling and all we need to do is present it clearly and efficiently. We have interesting subject matter and that is a rare treat for a web designer.
High quality, high resolution images are only visible to a very small minority of users. The huge majority of web traffic is now on tiny phone screens, and of the small minority who have large (e.g. 20 or 27″) screens only a few can even see well enough for it to make a real difference. We have been brainwashed into believing that it’s important to upload huge files, including stuff like 4k video, because that suits the bandwidth sellers and the hardware manufacturers. They want your computer/phone to be slow and frustrating so that you keep “upgrading” it!