Implementing Lazy Loading in Next.js 14

Anton Ioffe - November 14th 2023 - 10 minutes read

As web development races towards ever more immersive experiences, the impetus to streamline performance has never been greater. In this article, we unlock the capabilities of Next.js 14 to masterfully integrate lazy loading into your projects. Diving into strategies that finely balance performance and network efficiency, addressing and overcoming common pitfalls, and pushing the boundaries of what can be deferred with advanced techniques, we'll guide you through transforming your Next.js apps into models of modern, efficient design. Stay tuned as we unveil the secrets of optimized code splitting with Next.js’s new app directory and extend lazy loading to assets beyond images, ensuring your web applications are not just keeping pace, but setting the standard in today's fast-moving digital ecosystem.

Embracing the Power of Lazy Loading in Next.js 14

Lazy loading represents an evolutionary leap in web performance optimization, especially as websites burgeon with multimedia content. Next.js 14 confronts this challenge head-on with its Image component, revolutionizing how developers manage media without bogging down page loads. This component deftly implements lazy loading, ensuring images are only fetched as they're about to enter the viewport—an approach critical to maintaining a swift, efficient user experience.

In the ecosystem of Next.js, image optimization transcends the Image component alone, serving as a testament to the framework's performance savvy. The Image component, as a cog in this machine, contributes to a reduced JavaScript bundle size since it leverages server-side optimization and native lazy loading—eliminating the client-side burden known as 'hydration', or the process of filling in static HTML with dynamic client-side JavaScript. Next.js 14's refined operation minimizes the time until interactive elements become responsive (TTI) and the initial server response time (TTFB), which are key metrics for SEO ranking algorithms.

Next.js 14 enhances DX and accessibility, as demonstrated by the Image component's requirement for alt attributes, ensuring compliance with web standards and promoting web inclusivity. This version takes strides forward, building upon the foundations of predecessors and drawing on the prowess of modern web platforms to ensure image handling is rapid and responsive, aligning with user expectations in an increasingly fast-paced digital realm.

The Image component's ability to display a blurred placeholder until the full image is ready elevates the user's visual experience, smartly mitigating any jarring perceptions of loading. This benefit exists independently of, but works hand-in-hand with, lazy loading to craft a seamless user interface. By implementing these placeholders, Next.js 14 maintains user engagement and perceptually speeds loading times, both critical to user retention.

Through these innovations, the Image component epitomizes Next.js 14's dedication to pushing the envelope of web performance. Optimizations like native lazy loading embedded in server-side processing and additional features like blurred placeholders underscore Next.js's holistic approach to performance—delivering fast, intuitive experiences without sacrificing quality or accessibility.

Strategies for Implementing Lazy-Loaded Images

As web application complexities increase, efficient management of resources like images is paramount. One straightforward approach to defer offscreen image loading is by setting the loading="lazy" attribute in standard <img> tags. This native lazy loading signals the browser to wait until the user's scroll activity brings the image into view, conserving initial load bandwidth. However, it does not give developers much control over the loading process, and older browsers may not support this attribute, leading to inconsistent behavior across different user environments.

Next.js extends image optimization capabilities with its next/image component designed to integrate effortlessly with the framework's built-in performance optimizations. The component automates lazy loading, only fetching images when they enter the viewport. Additionally, it supports various placeholder strategies, ensuring users aren't staring at empty spaces as images load. This leads to smooth user experiences, with the trade-off that developers must adhere to the constraints and patterns dictated by the next/image API.

In scenarios where next/image is unsuitable, developers can implement a custom lazy loading approach using Intersection Observer API. It allows fine-grained control over exactly when image loading triggers, offering the flexibility to cater to complex layouts or animations that require specific timing. This option requires thorough testing across browsers and viewports to ensure compatibility and preserve user experience, especially with varied data thresholds and debounce strategies.

For a blended strategy, developers may mix next/image with manual techniques for edge cases that demand specific loading behaviors. Leveraging React's useEffect and state management, images can be conditionally rendered with placeholder components that later trigger the load of real images. This hybrid method balances framework benefits with custom control but increases the component's complexity and requires rigorous attention to state changes and re-render optimization to avoid unnecessary performance overheads.

Finally, it's essential to recognize instances where lazy loading may not be beneficial, such as above-the-fold content crucial for the initial user impression. Prioritizing critical assets using the priority property in next/image, or deferring lazy loading until after the main content has loaded, can maintain performance gains without degrading user experiences. As such, continually profiling application performance with these strategies in mind permits finely-tuned optimization that aligns with user expectations and business goals.

Tackling Common Pitfalls in Lazy Loading

Understanding viewport interactions is crucial when implementing lazy loading. One common error is to misjudge when and how content will enter a user's viewport, leading to poor user experiences. A user might scroll faster than the lazy loading triggers, causing a noticeable delay in content appearance. To counter this, an Intersection Observer API implementation should include rootMargin to load content just before it comes into view.

// Create an IntersectionObserver instance
const observer = new IntersectionObserver((entries, observer) => {
  entries.forEach(entry => {
      const lazyElement =;
      // Replace placeholder with actual content
      lazyElement.src = lazyElement.dataset.src;
}, {
  rootMargin: '100px' // Load content 100px before it enters the viewport

// Observe lazy loaded elements
document.querySelectorAll('.lazy-load').forEach(elem => {

Another pitfall is overlooking the user’s network conditions, which can vary widely. An image-heavy website might work well on high-speed connections, but on slower networks, even lazy-loaded content could hinder performance. Implementing adaptive loading based on the user's network conditions is a wise approach. Here, the navigator.connection API can be used to tailor the loading behavior.

// Check if the user has a slow connection
if(navigator.connection && navigator.connection.saveData === true){
  // Opt for lower quality images or further delay loading of non-critical assets

// Continue with regular lazy loading for users with good connection

Implementing lazy loading can sometimes lead to Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) if content sizes aren't properly accounted for. Using placeholder content that matches the size of the lazy-loaded content prevents layout shifts. One such method is to utilize aspect ratio boxes to hold the place of images:

.aspect-ratio-box {
  height: 0;
  overflow: hidden;
  position: relative;
  padding-bottom: calc(100% / (16/9)); /* for a 16:9 aspect ratio */
.aspect-ratio-box img {
  position: absolute;
  width: 100%;
  height: auto;
<div class="aspect-ratio-box">
  <img data-src="image-to-lazy-load.jpg" class="lazy-load" alt="descriptive text">

The usage of Skeleton screens over spinners is becoming a best practice for improving perceived performance. Skeletons maintain the illusion of faster content loading. Here's how you might create a skeleton loader in the meantime.

// In your React component before the data loading
<div className="skeleton-loader">
  <div className="skeleton-header"></div>
  <div className="skeleton-content"></div>

Lastly, the inappropriate use of fallbacks can disrupt the user experience. The startTransition API in React allows for state updates without urgent UI feedback, helping in scenarios where lazy loading transitions are better handled with less intrusive indicators.

import { startTransition } from 'react';

function handleTabChange() {
  startTransition(() => {
    // Code to switch tabs goes here

By avoiding these common pitfalls and following the outlined best practices, developers can ensure a smoother and more efficient lazy loading implementation that enhances the user experience across various devices and network conditions.

Leveraging the New App Directory for Optimized Code Splitting

The introduction of the new app directory in Next.js 14 has redefined code splitting techniques, amplifying lazy loading strategies. This directory enables a streamlined, automated approach to code splitting by intelligently mapping files to corresponding routes, each acting as an independent JavaScript chunk. This granular approach reduces the amount of code served on initial page loads, and by doing so, it propels performance with faster page responsiveness—a critical aspect for user engagement and retention.

Interoperating with the legacy pages directory, the app directory facilitates a gradual migration path. Developers can organize routes using single-file page declarations like home.js, which instantly crafts a route at the corresponding /home endpoint. This systematic parallel between file structure and web app routing is essential for implementing lazy loading proficiently. Nesting layouts within the app directory enhances state persistence throughout navigations, precluding unnecessary re-renders and thereby further advancing application performance.

With Next.js’s embrace of React Server Components (RSC), server-side rendering (SSR) becomes more effective by excluding irrelevant JavaScript from the SSR payload, notably benefiting interactivity. Only essential client-side logic leverages hydration, optimizing the total JavaScript byte size and impacting metrics such as time to interactive (TTI).

Here's an upgraded code example showcasing the lazy loading of a user profile component:

// app/profile.js
import { fetchData } from 'path-to-data-fetching-logic';

// Fetching data for server-side rendering
export async function getServerSideProps() {
  const profileData = await fetchData();
  return { props: { profileData } };

// Profile component
export default function Profile({ profileData }) {
  return (
      {/* More profile content */}

By leveraging getServerSideProps, we optimize server-side data fetching, preparing the component for interaction upon arrival at the client.

Streaming is another significant advancement offered by the app directory, allowing components without data dependencies to render instantaneously. Components requiring data display an interactive loading state while the data streams to the client. This creates the illusion of speed and responsiveness. Particular attention should be paid when using Suspense for data fetching, as it should be accompanied by robust error boundaries to ensure graceful handling of loading states and potential data fetch failures.

Here's a practical example of streaming with a page using Suspense:

// app/dashboard.js
import React, { Suspense } from 'react';
import Profile from './profile';

function Dashboard() {
  return (
      {/* Static dashboard elements render immediately */}
      <Suspense fallback={<p>Loading profile...</p>}>
        <Profile />
      {/* Other components */}

export default Dashboard;

Integrating Suspense around the Profile component permits other parts of the Dashboard to load and become interactive, enhancing the user's experience as the profile information streams in.

In employing the app directory for lazy loading, developers need to approach component-route associations with foresight, skillfully manage layout nesting, and fine-tune component-level data fetching strategies to minimize the client-side JavaScript bundle size. By addressing these areas thoughtfully, applications built on Next.js 14 can harness lazy loading effectively, delivering peak performance even as web application complexity continues to escalate.

Advanced Lazy Loading Techniques: Beyond Images

Leveraging advanced techniques for lazy loading requires more than just understanding how to deal with images. Scripts, arguably, can bloat page load times considerably if they're all loaded at the initial load. Utilizing next/script, developers can defer the loading of non-critical scripts, vastly improving performance metrics such as First Contentful Paint (FCP) and Time to Interactive (TTI). For instance, analytics or advertisements scripts, which are not essential for the initial page render, can be loaded using next/script with the strategy prop set to 'lazyOnload'. This ensures that the scripts are fetched only after the main content of the page has loaded, thereby prioritizing the user experience.

import Script from 'next/script';

function HomePage() {
  return (
      {/* rest of your components */}

With @next/font, font optimization enters a new realm, allowing for smarter control over when fonts are fetched. Fonts can drastically influence Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) if not handled correctly. By utilizing @next/font, developers specify in their _app.js file which fonts are preloaded, reducing rendering jitters as users navigate through the site. Fonts become another asset that can be efficiently managed to ensure they do not hinder the page's performance.

import { Font } from '@next/font/google';

const myFont = Font({ family: 'Lato' });

function MyApp() {
  return (
    <style jsx global>{`
      :root {
        --font-family: ${myFont.variable};
    {/* rest of the app */}

Taking bundle optimization further, next-generation bundlers like Turbopack offer tantalizing prospects for lazy loading. By smartly dividing the bundle into chunks and loading them on demand, developers can reduce initial load times considerably. When a certain route is navigated to, only the necessary chunks for that specific route are pulled in. This granular control transforms the way resources are managed, leveraging the modern capabilities of bundlers to serve content only as needed.

CSS is often overlooked when considering what to lazy load, yet it presents a significant opportunity for performance gains. By splitting CSS into chunks associated with their corresponding components or routes, we prevent the loading of unnecessary styles. Next.js supports CSS Modules out of the box, which can be paired with code-splitting to achieve this. When a component is lazy-loaded, its styles are too, ensuring styles are downloaded only when the component is rendered.

// Example of a lazy-loaded component with its associated CSS module
const LazyComponent = dynamic(() => import('./LazyComponent'));

Advanced lazy loading strategies improve memory usage, script execution time, and the overall responsiveness of Next.js applications. Deftly applying these techniques demands an understanding of the trade-offs between performance and user experience. As senior developers, we must continuously weigh complexity against benefits, ensuring that lazy loading reinforces rather than detracts from the dynamism and polish of our web applications. How might you structure your codebase to make these optimizations more maintainable over time?


In this article, we explore the implementation of lazy loading in Next.js 14 for optimized web performance. We discuss the benefits of Next.js's Image component for lazy loading and image optimization, as well as strategies for implementing lazy-loaded images. We also cover common pitfalls and best practices for lazy loading, leveraging the new app directory for optimized code splitting, and advanced lazy loading techniques beyond images. The article challenges developers to consider how they can structure their codebase to make these optimizations more maintainable over time. To further enhance their understanding and skills, they can try implementing lazy loading using the Intersection Observer API in their own projects.