What do we want? Speed! When do we want it? All the time – even from mobile devices, and even when we’re in the back of the grocery store with a less-than-great data connection, because we forgot the ingredients to that recipe we’re shopping for and of course we left the list at home. So we look it up, and pray the webpage loads. Right?
WordPress, as of version 4.4, which was released December 8th as a minor update, offers natively responsive images. From a technical standpoint, this means that WordPress now supports scrset & sizes, which are relatively new HTML5 specifications that allow developers to designate the best possible image size to download for a specific visitor.
Leveraging srcset and sizes (they go together like Peanut Butter & Jelly Time!) means that the browser gets to choose the best image based on a ton of data – chief among them being the size of the device and the speed of the connection. Giving this power to the browser means developers can spend less time tweaking for each individual mobile device while serving up a superior experience to visitors and consumers. It’s a development holy grail.
The best part is that you’ll see immediate returns with a simple update – no developer necessary. Updating your site to WordPress 4.4 will see an immediate speed boost on image-heavy pages and posts where the images are being pulled from the WordPress media library. If you have a blog or news site, you’re seeing an immediate boost, which can in turn positively affect your rankings on search engines. This is particularly true for mobile search, given that we know Google uses speed as a factor in rankings. (Want an even bigger mobile boost? Check out our analysis of AMP!)
Your developer can help to stretch that speed benefit even further by updating your WordPress theme to leverage the responsive image functions available to developers throughout the theme, for any and all images that are loaded.
Keeping your WordPress site up to date is always a good idea from a security standpoint, but that’s not the only benefit! The hard-working developers who contribute to the WordPress core are committed to security, bug fixes, and to a stable product, of course! These folks are also committed to excellence, introducing valuable new functionality, and to keeping up with the latest and greatest in coding standards. Is it any wonder we build all of our websites on WordPress?