Showing the alternative text while images are loading

by Michael Scharnagl

This article has been updated the last time on January 20, 2016 and the given information may be not accurate anymore. Feel free to contact me on twitter to get more details.

Some days ago Šime Vidas tweeted: Why don’t Chrome, Safari reserve space for <img> with height attribute in responsive layouts? As part of the discussion and after some testing in different browsers I found that Firefox is the only browser at the moment who shows the alt attribute while images are loading. I think it would be great if every browser would show the alternative text while images are loading – especially on slow connections this would be very helpful.

Slow connections

When browsing web sites, especially on slow connections, it takes some time until all images are loaded. In addition to defining aspect ratio for images to prevent the jump effect, it would be great if the alternative text would be shown so I could decide more easily if I think it is worth to wait for the image or move on scrolling and reading.

Improve accessibility

I think this would also improve accessibility. If authors would see the value of the alt attribute every time they open their site they would more likely add an alternative text for every image. Adding useful alternative text is something many Authors forget and don’t check before publishing an article. Some CMS also pre-fill the alternative text with information they extract from the image, like the name of the camera. My hope is that by making the alternative text more present many authors will think about it and provide useful information for images.

Styling the alternative text

You can also style the alternative text with CSS. Here is an example of an invalid image where I styled the alternative text.

Feature requests

Because I really want this feature in every browser I opened requests for Chrome (Blink), IE/Edge and Safari (WebKit).

Internet Explorer / Edge

Let’s see what they think.

One thought on “Showing the alternative text while images are loading

  1. […] Showing the alternative text while images are loading: Did you know Firefox is the only browser that displays alternative text while images are loading? […]

Michael Scharnagl

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A freelance front-end developer focusing on HTML5, CSS, progressive enhancement and web performance.