Cutting down on image requests with lazy load can have a significant impact on the carbon footprint of a website and a major improvement in user experience.
The page weight of a typical web page is 2MB, and images account for over 60% of that.
Why do you care about page weight? Because the more data a page contains, the longer it takes to load. Users tend to abandon websites that take longer than 3 seconds to load, which means that an image-heavy page with slow load times not only increases your website’s carbon footprint, but increases your website’s bounce rate as well.
You might be able to decrease page weight by removing images from your web pages, but if you have a blog post or page that relies heavily on images to tell a story, you can still significantly reduce page weight using a lazy load tool.
Lazy load works by blocking images, videos, and iframes from downloading until they are needed. When a user scrolls down the page, it waits until the image comes into view to download it. This is especially important for media-rich sites and mobile users.
For example, this blog post contains 10 images that appear “below the fold.” Lazy loading images saves the user from unnecessarily downloading 2MB of extra data. This matters for sustainability because it reduces the number of HTTP requests, load time, and data transfer.
There are already a number of lazy load WordPress plugins in the WP Plugin Directory, but they generally fall into two camps: lightweight with no configurability or highly-configurable but resource-intensive. The two most popular lazy load plugins are Lazy Load and BJ Lazy Load. Lazy Load is fast, but doesn’t offer admins the ability to configure any settings and hasn’t been updated since 2012. BJ Lazy Load offers admins plenty of settings to configure and is actively maintained, but runs significantly slower.
Since I didn’t feel like the options that were available worked to significantly reduce page load times while remaining customizable (and still fully supported), I built Lazy Load XT. It is both lightweight and highly-configurable, and is now the fastest, lightest, fully-customizable lazy load plugin in the WordPress Plugin Repository.
A lot of care was put into making sure Lazy Load XT delivers a feature-rich admin experience with the lightest possible footprint. It runs 10 times faster than BJ Lazy Load and only marginally slower than Lazy Load, while offering similar configuration options to BJ Lazy Load.