Have you ever heard the term “render blocking” and didn’t know what it was?
In this article, we’ll discuss the impact of render-blocking on website performance and user experience, and provide strategies for fixing render-blocking issues.
What is “render blocking”?
“Render blocking” refers to the practice of loading resources in a way that blocks the rendering of the webpage until they are fully loaded.
The impact of “render blocking”
This could make the page take longer to load, which could affect how the user feels when exploring the website and, consequently, how well the SEO works.
More specifically, it can significantly increase the time it takes for a webpage to load, which can be frustrating for users and lead to a higher bounce rate. This translates to a poor user experience. Users expect websites to load quickly, and if a webpage takes too long to load, they may become frustrated and leave the site. This can lead to a decrease in engagement and conversions.
It will definitely damage your SEO performance. That is because page load time is a factor that Google takes into account when ranking websites in search results. If your website has a slow page load time due to render-blocking resources, it could negatively impact your search engine rankings.
How to Identify Render Blocking Resources
There are several ways to identify render-blocking resources on your WordPress site. Between the most common practices and tools available out there, we will talk about the ones we mostly trust.
WebPageTest gives you detailed statistics and data that you can use to find places on your site where performance could be improved.
However, the sheer volume of information it provides can be a little overwhelming. That is why we provide a full guide on how to get a detailed performance analysis that we highly recommend that you study.
Use Google PageSpeed Insights
The Google PageSpeed Insights tool analyzes the performance of your website and provides suggestions for optimizing page load time. It will show any resources that are stopping the page from being displayed and give suggestions for how to fix the problem.
This is another popular solution to the current topic. GTmetrix also analyzes the performance of your website and provides recommendations for improving the page load time. It also provides detailed information about the resources that are causing delays in the page load time.
The Chrome browser has a built-in set of developer tools that can be used to debug and troubleshoot issues with your website. These tools allow you to inspect the source code of your webpage, view the network requests made by the page, and see the performance of your website. There is excellent official documentation on how to use the Chrome DevTools where you will get all the help you need to identify the critical resources.
Inspect the page source code
You can view the source code of your webpage by right-clicking on the page and selecting “View Page Source” or “Inspect”. In the source code, look for any script tags that are blocking the rendering of the page. These are typically located at the top of the page, before the content.
How to deal with the issue
A few common causes of render-blocking on a website are unoptimized scripts and stylesheets, blocking elements in the intro of the page, external resources, or insufficient server resources. Fortunately, there are ways you can deal with each of these cases.
Minification is the process of removing extra characters from code, such as white space, comments, and unused code, to make the code smaller. To reduce the size even further, you can combine multiple files into one.
By reducing the amount of code in a file, you can make the resources smaller, which speeds up the loading of these elements and helps you fix render-blocking.
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There are great free online tools that can help you here. You can use a minification tool like Minify or CSSNano that can automatically minify your code.
It’s important that minification be used in combination with other strategies that we will get into next.
One way to reduce the issues caused by render blocking is by using techniques such as lazy loading or asynchronous loading.You can put the “defer” or “async” attribute on script tags to show that the script can be loaded without blocking the page from being rendered.
Note that the “defer” and “async” attributes have different behaviors. The “defer” scripts are loaded after the page has finished parsing, while “async” scripts are loaded as soon as possible. That is why “defer” is mostly used on scripts that are essential to the page currently loading, while “async” is better for scripts that are not essential. It’s important that, in each case, you choose the one that best fits your needs.
Inline critical CSS
Instead of linking to an external stylesheet, you can inline the CSS required to render the page content directly in the HTML of your page. By putting this so-called “critical CSS” directly in the HTML of your page, the browser can render the page without having to wait for an external stylesheet to load.
To identify the critical CSS for your webpage, you can benefit from tools like the Critical Path CSS Generator or Penthouse. Then you can insert the critical CSS directly in the HTML of your page, within a <style> tag like this:
<style> /* Critical CSS goes here */ </style>
And then, link to the full stylesheet asynchronously using the “defer” attribute.
<link rel="stylesheet" href="/path/to/stylesheet.css" defer>
Now, if you save the changes and refresh the webpage, you should see the updated version.
When you follow this route, it is important to strike a balance between inlining CSS and the impact on the overall size of the page so that you do not end up with a large HTML file. Also, make sure you update the inlined critical CSS on a regular basis so that it stays up-to-date with any changes you make to your styles.
Large images can make it take a lot longer for a page to load. Reducing the size of your images and using the right image formats can help your site perform better.
Image optimization is a strategy for resolving render-blocking issues, but it needs to be done wisely. We provide a great guide on image optimization that we suggest you read in order to do it correctly.
Also, make sure you choose the appropriate image format for your images. For example, JPEG is generally better for photographs, while PNG is better for graphics with transparent backgrounds. Using the appropriate image format can also help reduce the size of your images and improve the performance of your site.
In Pressidium, we use our own Image smacking internal service that optimizes your media in a lossless way. It is enabled by default and automatically performs a number of optimizations on each individual image.
Enable lazy loading
Lazy loading allows images and other resources to be loaded only when they are needed, rather than all at once when the page is loaded. It is another method for reducing the amount of render-blocking resources on your site and improving its performance.
To manually turn on lazy loading on a page, you have to add lazy loading attributes to the images and other resources on your site like this:
<img src="/path/to/image.jpg" loading="lazy">
This tells the browser that the image should only be loaded when needed.
At Pressidium, we make it very simple for our customers to enable it via our Dashboard/Portal.
By fixing issues with render-blocking on your WordPress site, you can make the site run faster and give your visitors a better experience. With the ever-growing competition for eyeballs on screens, anything you can do to improve your website is always worth the time and effort!
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