Images Not Loading on Your Website? Here Are 6 Possible Reasons Why

6 Reasons Why Your Website May Be Showing Broken Images

Road sign saying
Missing images make your site look broken.

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, what is your website saying if an image that is supposed to be on the site fails to load? Whether you have inline images that are part of the HTML or background images applied with CSS (your site likely has both of these), when a graphic fails to load on a page, it makes the design look broken and, in some cases, can completely destroy the user experience on that site.

Let’s take a look at some of the common reasons why images would fail to load on a site, as well as what you should be mindful of when troubleshooting this problem during website testing.

1. Incorrect File Paths

When you add images to a site’s HTML or CSS file, you are creating a path to the location in your directory structure where those files reside. In most cases, this would be inside of a folder named ‘images.’ If the path to this folder and the files inside of it are incorrect, the images will not load properly because the browser will not be able to fetch the correct files.

Step 1 in debugging image loading issues is to make sure that the file path you have coded is correct.

2. Files Names Misspelled

As you examine the file paths for your files, also be sure that you spelled the name of the image correctly. In my experience, incorrect names or misspellings are the most common cause of image loading issues.

3. Wrong File Extension

In some cases, you may have the name of the file correctly spelled, but the file extension may be incorrect. If your image is a .jpg file, but your HTML is looking for a .png, there will be a problem. Make sure you are using the correct file type for each image and then be sure you have called for that same extension in your website’s code.

4. Files Are Missing

If the paths to your image files are correct, and the name and file extension are also error free, the next item to check is to make sure that the files have actually been uploaded to the web server. Neglecting to upload files to that server when a site is launched is a common mistake that is easy to overlook. How do you fix this problem? Upload those images, refresh your web page, and it should immediately display the files as expected.

5. The Website Hosting the Images Is Down

You will typically want to host any images that your site uses on your own server, but in some cases you may be using images that are hosted elsewhere. If that site hosting the image goes down, your images are not going to load.

6. Transfer Problem

Whether an image file is loaded form an external domain or from your own, there is always a chance that there may be a transfer problem for that file. This should not be a common occurrence (if it is, you may need to look for a new hosting provider), but it can happen from time to time.

The unfortunate side of this issue is that there really is nothing you can do about it since it is a problem outside of your control. They good news is that it is a temporary problem that is often resolved pretty quickly.

For instance, when someone sees a broken-looking page and refreshes it, that alone will often fix the problem and properly load the images.

A Few Final Notes

When thinking about images and loading concerns, two things to also be mindful of are the proper use of ALT tags and the your website speed and overall performance.
ALT, or “alternate text”, tags are what is displayed by a browser if an image fails to load. They are also an important component in creating accessible websites that can be used by people with certain disabilities. Every inline image in your site should have an appropriate ALT tag. Note that images applied with CSS do not have this attribute.

As for website performance - loading too many images, or even just a few giants images that are not properly optimized for web delivery, will have a negative impact on loading speed.

For this reason, be sure to test the impact of any images that you use in your site’s design and take any steps that are necessary to improve that site’s performance while still creating the overall look and feel that is appropriate for your website project.