Images attract readers to stay longer and to browse more pages. But the downside of having images is that it can take forever to load. OK, maybe not forever in the real sense but it sure does feel like so for your readers when your website takes more than 5 seconds to load. And this is where it is going to hurt you… from your visitors’ poor surfing experiences to high bounce-rate to a dip in your SEO ranking! Slow website. Horrors!
Let’s face it, there are many times when we find ourselves trying to fight off the urge to upload the tons of images that we wanted to showcase to our website visitors. And the many articles advising us to cut down on images in order not to affect your website’s loading speed, didn’t help much either.
Now, what if I say that there is a solution to this dilemma? That there is a way to balance the quantity and quality of your images and the website’s loading speed. Awesome, don’t you think so? Well, there is. It’s called the Lazy Load plugins.
To put it simply, a Lazy Load plugin will help your image-packed website run faster by loading images in stages, as opposed to pre-loading the images as websites traditionally do.
What this means is that the plugin will load ONLY the images content that are being accessed at that moment, or above the fold in the browser. As your readers start scrolling down your page, the images start to be loaded as they appear on the browser.
This way, you do not need to reduce the number of images nor do you need to reduce the size or quality of these images. And yet, website speed is still great.
Now that we have established the importance of having a Lazy Load plugin for image-heavy websites… let’s have a look at 5 recommended Lazy load plugins for WordPress websites.
This basic plugin uses jQuery.sonar and when installed, will load images as and when they start to appear in the viewport. This plugin has been updated quite often and in the most recent update, bugs have been fixed and some new features are implemented.
It is lightweight as you won’t need any administrative panels or anything like that. Just install and it will automatically do its job.
Another good Lazy Load plugin is the BJ Lazy Load. It aims to improve your website’s performance by managing the loading of your website images. This includes your post images, post thumbnails, gravatar images and iframe content (HTML document embedded inside another HTML document). These images are placed into a placeholder and will only be loaded as your visitors scrolls closer to them.
The Lazy Widget Loader is similar to other Lazy Load plugins but focuses on widgets instead. This is pretty useful for those websites who has lots of slow widgets especially those that requires external data input. Examples of such widgets include social media widgets like Facebook and Twitter as well as ads widget like Adsense. These widgets take up additional bandwidth and thus, increase loading time.
But with the Lazy Widget Loader, the chosen widgets will only be loaded after your main contents are displayed. Yes, you get to determine which widgets to be lazy loaded and which to remain un-touched.
Now, a Lazy Load plugin for your videos. When this plugin is installed, your YouTube links will be replaced with “Lite YouTube embeds”. This look almost identical to your embedded YouTube video. When your visitors click on the video to play it, the plugin will then seamlessly initiates the actual Flash or HTML5 player.
What’s great about this plugin is that it is cross browser compatible including iPad. Certainly a fantastic way to avoid major loading slowdown as a result of multiple YouTube videos.
This is an advanced version of the Lazy Load plugin. In a way, it is because it is improved in the sense that it supports all WordPress images not limited to your contents but also including those featured in your theme, in your sidebars and so forth.
The other interesting things are that it allows customizing image loading and default selectors as well as having a cascading enabling/disabling level feature.
This is a premium plugin and it costs $12 for a regular license and $60 for an extended license.
So if you are unwilling to compromise the amount of images on your website and their quality for website loading speed, then try out the many Lazy Load plugins above. I’m sure your readers would find it interesting and also, would appreciate the effort. Do share how well it had worked for your website!