Images are an integral part of every web page, and this has only become truer with time – nowadays, if you want people to visit and read your website, you need to make judicial use of images in your website. But most people who are thinking about designing their website never ask themselves a crucial question: how are images loaded and displayed on a web page?
In this article, we’ll learn more about the most efficient and effective way of loading images on a website and why you need to use it if you want to see your site succeed.
Reasons Why You Need to Implement Lazy Loading?
Images are not only taking an increasingly important role in web design, but they are increasing in size as well – the days of low-quality banners on web 2.0 websites have long gone.
Nowadays, images are high-definition and require a lot of bandwidth to load. So, not only do we need to add more images than ever before, those images are larger and require more bandwidth than ever before.
This presents a clear problem for web designers – how can they make their websites feel snappy and load quickly when you need to load so many images? This is why image lazy loading is important:
It Allows Your Website to Display While Loading Images in the Background
Traditionally, the browser renders a page linearly asset by asset without prioritizing any element or loading large assets in parallel. This increases loading times and makes the website less responsive.
With lazy loading, the browser will load the images in the background and display the page concurrently. This decreases loading times and makes the website feel more snappy.
Loading Speed is an Important SEO Ranking Factor
Not only will the website feel snappy to users, but it also will help you on search engine results pages. 53% of traffic on the web comes from organic placement on search engine results’ pages (this means, on average, half of the revenue generated from a site comes from organic traffic), and this shows how immensely important search engine placement is for any website. Along with SEO image optimization, lazy loading is one of the best ways to increase the loading speed of a site.
The Ability to Add and Update Any Image on Demand
Have you ever stopped to think about how Facebook and Twitter automatically load images as you scroll down? How do news websites load news pieces as you scroll through?
The images are all loaded through lazy loading making websites like Twitter and Facebook possible. If you have a lot of images you need to load when a user scrolls, you need to use lazy loading.
Which Types of Websites is Lazy Loading Most Suitable For?
Although almost any website that’s not text-only will benefit from implementing lazy loading, some types of websites benefit more than others:
- Sites focused on images: are you happy with the speed of Jumpstory? That’s because we use lazy loading, and so should you if your site focuses on images, which includes recipe sites, photography sites, travel blogs, and a lot more. If you don’t want to compromise on the quality of the images just to make the site load faster, and you need to use the obvious alternative: lazy loading.
- Sites providing very high-quality assets: sites that offer 8K images, high-quality maps, satellite images, etc. need to use lazy loading to function. NASA’s satellite image pages will take minutes to load without lazy loading!
- Sites that need to load images on the fly: as we mentioned before, the most prominent examples of this kind of site are Facebook and Twitter, but an increasing number of websites are implementing similar techniques.
- Reduce the need for pagination on e-commerce websites: have you ever wondered how professional e-commerce websites manage to display a large number of products as you scroll through while the site keeps feeling snappy and responsive? This is done primarily through lazy loading! You can load products as the user browses the page without hurting performance.
How Many Different Ways Are There to Implement Lazy Loading?
There are many ways to implement lazy loading depending on your server-side platform, the front-side libraries you’re using, and what kind of browser you’re targeting:
- Using native lazy loading functionality: most browsers now support native lazy loading functionality out of the box (see the full browser compatibility), so you don’t need to use any third-party libraries or plugins to add the functionality. This is probably the easiest, most efficient, and most secure way of doing it, but sadly browsers like Safari, Internet Explorer and Firefox Mobile don’t support it yet, so if you want your website to work on your every browser out there, you definitely should use an alternative.
- WordPress plugins: since WordPress is one of the most popular website building platforms, it deserves a mention here. Thankfully, WordPress users have easy access to plugins that enables them to use lazy loading functionality with a few clicks.
Enabling or implementing lazy loading correctly can be a difficult task, and it is important to get it right: so, if you can’t do it yourself, we recommend hiring an SEO agency to take care of it for you
About the author
Adrian Kempiak – Head of SEO at Neadoo Digital – UK SEO agency Tech enthusiast, in the SEO industry for over 9 years, technical SEO expert at Neadoo. Consultations and audits for businesses from various markets. Responsible for running both worldwide SEO campaigns for e-commerce stores and local SEO for businesses worldwide (UK, USA, Australia, Spain and much more).
Head of SEO