Bringing anything into your site from social media will radically slow page load time.
Pinterest images are, by far, one of the worst offenders.
See just how much a Pinterest widget slows down your page load, and a super easy widget alternative that will still send visitors directly to your Pinterest boards.
Subscribe to the BlogAid YouTube Channel for more helpful tips like this
Pinterest has a widget builder tool that helps you generate the code needed to embed:
- one of your pins
- Up to 30 of your latest pins
- Up to 30 pins from a single board
The problem with the last 2 is that you can’t select less than 30 pins to include.
And while it may display only a small fraction of those as thumbnails, it’s actually bringing in all 30 images, and at a much larger thumbnail size than shown in the sidebar.
If you have this code in your primary sidebar, then it’s pulling all of that in on every post and page on your site and radially slowing it down.
Let’s have a look at some real examples.
In this first widget, I have the Pinterest code from their widget builder tool.
I have to scroll down to see all of them, but it is bringing in 30 images.
The Pinterest Widget by Angie Makes plugin does the same thing.
Instead of adding code, you just input the URL of your profile for your latest pins, or the URL of a specific board.
The Pinterest Badget plugin is a little different.
It allows you to select how many images to show, whether they are big or small icons.
But more importantly, it caches the images so they don’t have to load with every new page or post the visitor clicks. Now, that only works for the 2nd page or post they visit, not the first one. So, it’s basically no better than the others on first page load time.
Not to mention how it squishes the images and doesn’t center them so they don’t look very good.
I looked at all of the popular Pinterest widget plugins I could find in the WordPress plugin repository and the rest of them had not been updated in over 2 years. So, they may not be PHP7 compatible, and they may have security issues because they may not be keeping pace with changes in the WordPress core.
Let’s have a look at just how incredibly slow any one of these plugins, or the raw code, makes your page load.
I think you’ll be shocked.
I removed all of the widgets and ran a performance check on my favorite tester WebPage Test.
I set it to run 3 concurrent tests from the middle of the country, and using the Chrome browser.
As you can see I’m not using CloudFlare or any other CDN to help speed things up, which is why there is an X on that score.
The initial load time is 1.272s and the full load time is 1.394s
The big thing is that there are only 17 requests. That’s how many items had to be fetched to render every element on this page.
I’m using Genesis with the Lifestyle Pro theme, so that means all of the theme’s css and js files are being called, plus Google fonts from the outside world too.
Our page size is a measly 156KB.
Then I reran the test with the Pinterest code in a sidebar widget.
The initial load time wasn’t affected much. It’s up 0.017s.
But look at the fully loaded time. It went up from 1.394s to 3.152! This widget basically tripled our load time.
And here’s why. We started with 17 requests. Now we have 72.
That’s a whopping 55 requests that had to be fetched before this page could be fully rendered.
And they’re all coming from Pinterest.
All that stuff coming from the outside world also tanked our Compress Transfer time too. And we have no control over that.
Yes, we have a green check on the CDN, but that’s just because Pinterest uses one and it was detected, not because we have done well.
And look at the page size.
We went from 156 KB to a whopping 671 KB. It increased by over 4x in size.
Let’s jump over to Webpage Test so you can see another shocker.
I’m on the view images page which shows us all of the images being loaded on just that page.
Even though the widget is displaying teeny tiny thumbnails, this is the size of the image actually being loaded. If you typically do those tall tower images on Pinterest, they’ll be even bigger.
And look how many there are, even though you can only see a fraction of them in the sidebar.
That’s 30 extra images being loaded on every single post and page on your site!
But don’t worry.
There is an easy way to fix this.
You can create great looking image widgets yourself and link directly to Pinterest, Facebook, and your category archive pages and more.
And each of them puts no extra load on your site.
Watch my tutorial on 5 ways to create your own image widgets for details.