One rule for optimizing images on the web

30th April 2022

A good rule of thumb for optimizing images: Lazy load everything that is below the fold, eagerly load everything above the fold, with fetch priority set to high. Serve all images in webp/avif format.

Although native lazy loading is getting traction right now. I would not recommend using it, since it is only lazy-loading if the user's network is slow, which is unreliable and can hurt your website's bandwidth usage. Read more this new feature here https://addyosmani.com/blog/lazy-loading/

AVIF images are ~20% smaller than WebP ones, but they also take 20% longer to generate. AVIF is supported only by Chrome & Firefox. Use AVIF if you generate images in build time and WebP if in runtime.

WebP is well supported in all major browsers, except older versions of Safari, so remember to always have a fallback for JPEGs

There are at least two ways to serve optimized images in HTML:

Both work very similarly, but the picture element allows to declare fallback whilst img element does not.

If you're using Next.js I highly recommend checking out next/image component. It has great defaults, adapts best practices, and works great in small & big scale projects. https://nextjs.org/docs/basic-features/image-optimization

Bart Stefański

A self-taught full-stack software engineer based in Poland, working in React.js & Nest.js Stack. Passionate about Clean Code, Object-Oriented Architecture and fast web.