Sites with a ton of images can take forever to load. For every image, that’s another HTTP request, and more time your users have to wait in frustration while pages load slowly.
So what’s the solution? Lazy loading. It can significantly speed up image-heavy sites and takes no time at all to enable on your site. Lazy loading forces images to load only when they are “above the fold.” In other words, only images that come into view in a user’s browser will load. So if you have a page featuring 10 Fresh and Free Fullscreen WordPress Themes, only the first few images in the post will load and the others will load as the user scrolls down the page.
To help you get started on lazy loading, I’ve put together a collection of free lazy loading plugins for images, all same-same but different – some with options and settings and some with tiny footprints.
Smush is the most popular all-in-one image optimization plugin for a reason. We include everything you need to make your images load faster. We’ve recently added lazy loading to both the free version of Smush and the turbo-charged Smush Pro, that comes complete with the Smush Pro CDN.
To activate lazy loading with Smush, we’ve made the process super duper simple. All you need to do is go to the Lazy Loading section in Smush and push the Activate button. That’s it. You can further adjust your settings once lazy loading is activated, but it isn’t necessary. Smush and Smush Pro’s default settings are all you need to see a major performance improvement.
A3 Lazy load is the second most popular plugin for lazy loading images, iframes, videos, and other elements on your site.
It has lots of settings so you can customize how you want the assets on your site to be loaded.
It is also tested to be 100% compatible with popular plugins like WooCommerce, Advanced Custom Fields, and a variety of CDNs.
BJ Lazy Load allows you to lazy load selected images, including post images and thumbnails, Gravatar images and iFrames, and replace content with a placeholder.
There are some simple settings that allow you to customize how the plugin works, such as choosing a placeholder and skipping images with classes.
This plugin caters to size-optimized images, automatically serves scaled down images in responsive designs, and automatically serving hiDPI images for hiDPI screens (like Apple’s retina display).
See How to Make Retina-Ready Images That Don’t Slow Down WordPress if you want to learn more about serving high-resolution images.
Lazy Load couldn’t be easier to use – just install and activate it and you’re good to go. There are no settings or customizations to tweak. This plugin just works.
It uses jQuery.sonar to only load an image when it’s visible above the fold. You might be interested to know Lazy Load is an amalgamation of code written by the WordPress.com VIP team at Automattic, the TechCrunch 2011 Redesign team, and Jake Goldman from WordPress consultancy 10up.
Here’s another ultra lean lazy loading plugin that just works. No complicated configuration required.
Not all lazy loading plugins work with video, which is a shame because videos can add more bulk to your web page file size than images.
Lazy Load for Videos can help you lazy load videos hosted on Vimeo or YouTube. It loads a placeholder image and only loads the full video and video player if a visitor clicks on it.
This is essential if your site has a lot of videos and you choose a lightweight plugin that doesn’t include lazy loading for video.
More About Lazy Loading
The easiest way to get started with lazy loading is with Smush free or Smush Pro. Smush Pro adds other features that can help you with other Google PageSpeed Insights opportunities. It can help you serve images in next-gen formats by converting your images to WebP files and properly size images by scaling your images with the Smush Pro CDN. Smush Pro is even compatible with the popular WP Retina 2x plugin, so you can lazy load those huge Retina images without slowing down WordPress.
Try Smush Pro free for 30 days and see how much of a difference it can make for your site.