Lazy Load in WordPress 

Online shoppers no longer want to read page-long texts typed in small font. To impress sophisticated web users and stand out from the competition, you need to use captivating and original visual content to make your commercial pages both informative and appealing.

High-resolution images and videos are heavy-weight and take a long time to upload. This is especially true for pages that accommodate multiple content pieces. Each of them produces a unique HTTP request when users click to upload the page, exerting significant simultaneous loads.  

Does this mean that you need to sacrifice the usability of your e-commerce platform to display beautiful pictures? Or should you get rid of some images to score lower loading times? Both options are unsatisfactory in today’s competitive environment. In the era of a lightning-fast Internet, users are accustomed to having all the most valuable information at their fingertips. By testing their patience with slow loading times, you risk losing part of your target audience. At the same time, users won’t spend much time on a modest and dull platform with only a few images. 

In fact, you do not need to go to either of those extremes. There are two possible solutions for websites managed in WordPress CMS:

  • You can optimize your images and use a CDN (content delivery network) to upload content to your platform from multiple nearby located servers. 
  • A more effective option is to take advantage of a lazy load WordPress plugin or default feature. Lazy loading is easy to activate on your image-rich website, and this technology is sure to deliver tons of value. 

In this article, we will specifically focus on lazy loading.

What is Image Lazy Loading?

Visual content is many times heavier than text. Each image displayed on your pages slows down their loading times. Your website appears more stylish and beautiful, yet less responsive and user-friendly. 

A good way to avoid this situation is to immediately upload only those images that a user sees at the moment. Other content should upload in the order of demand, as the visitor scrolls down. This is how lazy loading works. 

This technology is designed to reduce the number of simultaneous HTTP requests and prevent dispersing your website’s capacity on content that is not yet on a user’s radar. Lazy loading is indispensable for image-rich product pages and articles that accommodate a large number of videos and pictures. 

The operation principle is as follows:

  1. Once a user clicks to open a page, a browser forms a Document Object Model (DOM) without visual content.
  2. Then JavaScript selects content on the user’s radar and uploads it first. 
  3. The processing of other images and videos begins only when the user scrolls down and reaches them. 

As a result, no overload occurs when customers access your pages. They do not need to wait until all the content is processed, and they can engage with the visible part right away. Until requested, all the remaining images are replaced with a placeholder. 

It is important to remember that shoppers do not care about things they cannot see, but they do care about fast loading. It is in your best interest to direct all your website’s capacity to visible content. By doing so, you will not have to sacrifice the number and quality of your product photos and appealing pictures.


How to Configure WordPress to Lazy Load Images

Earlier, the only way to use lazy loading was to install a third-party plugin. The alternative is scheduled to emerge in 2020. The new 5.4 WordPress version enables the lazy loading feature by default. Let’s consider each option in detail.

Default Lazy Loading in WordPress 5.4

The WordPress administration has announced that they are including the default lazy load feature in their new 5.4 version. It will automatically add the lazy loading attribute to the HTML code of all images, exempting website owners from the need to use additional plugins or JS code. Visual content will upload once users approach it as they scroll down the page. 

This behavior performs opposite to the “eager” attribute, where all images and videos are uploaded once a user accesses the page, whether the content is on the browser’s radar or not. Eager loading slows down websites, generating a large number of simultaneous HTTP requests. 

To get an idea of how lazy loading will work in WordPress, you can use their plugin designed specifically for testing purposes. Feel free to share feedback with the WordPress team, express your impressions, and point out drawbacks. 

The Clever team thinks it is important to determine whether WordPress 5.4 lazy loading will cause problems with third-party front-end libraries like pop-ups and sliders. We also want to see whether the built-in functionality will replace iframe video, substituting Youtube or Vimeo files with thumbnail images.

It should be noted that the lazy attribute that will soon be enabled in WordPress 5.4 by default has not yet been added to HTML validators. At the moment, images to which this attribute is assigned generate HTML validator errors.


WordPress 5.4 Release Date

WordPress publishers can expect the new CMS version to come out on March 31, 2020. Developers could shift the release date, depending on the product’s readiness, but not significantly. WordPress has a track record of strictly observing its deadlines. 

The WordPress team assured its customers that it will be easy to turn off the lazy-loading feature if necessary. Such a need may arise if browsers also learn to lazy load visual content by default, eliminating the need to duplicate this feature in the CMS. 

Google has already announced its intention to lazy load all images by default when the Lite mode (previously Data Saver mode) is turned on in the Chrome browser. 

Lazy Loading With Third-Party Plugins

Many content publishers value WordPress for its ability to fine-tune the CMS environment with third party plugins that correspond to their individual tasks and work style. You can assemble the toolkit that best serves your needs and boost the performance of your online platform. But keep in mind that the wrong choice of extensions can create challenges, instead of simplifying your content management routine. 

Lazy Load by WP Rocket is among the top lazy loading plugins. You can acquire and install it for free. The extension will optimize the display of all types of visual content on your online platform. Use it to upload in-post images, product photos, smileys, user avatars, iframes and other content as requested, and to replace YouTube files with thumbnails. 

The lazy load product by WP Rocket helps website owners achieve lightning loading speeds and provide upscale user experience to their clients. With this plugin, you do not need to use JS libraries like jQuery. Another perk is that the script is extremely lightweight – about 10KB. 

Popular alternatives include Zedna WP Image Lazy Load, 3 Lazy Load, WordPress Infinite Scroll, Speed Up – Lazy Load, Crazy Lazy, and WP YouTube Lyte, to name just a few. With such a wide choice of tools, there are no obstacles to implementing lazy loading on your online platform.You can easily find a plugin that caters to the unique needs of your project.


Summary

In today’s webspace, instantaneous page loading is critical to the success of any e-commerce platform. You should either use a third-party plugin to configure lazy image loading in your current WordPress version, or wait for the release of the 5.4 version that will provide this feature by default. Take advantage of the option that works best for you. In any case, low loading times will make your website more responsive and user-friendly, and grow your revenues.