The web has grown bigger. Both in expansiveness and weight. Nick Heer’s “The Bullshit Web”:
The average internet connection in the United States is about six times as fast as it was just ten years ago, but instead of making it faster to browse the same types of websites, we’re simply occupying that extra bandwidth with more stuff.
Nick clearly explains what he means by bullshit, and one can see a connection to Brad Frost’s similarly framed argument. Nick talks about how each incremental interaction is a choice and connects the cruft of the web to the rise and adoption of frameworks like AMP.
Ethan Marcotte paints things in a different light by looking at business incentive:
…ultimately, the web’s performance problem is a problem of profitability. If we’re going to talk about bloated pages, we should do so in context: in the context of a web where digital advertising revenue is cratering for publishers, but is positively flourishing for Facebook and Google. We should look at the underlying structural issues that incentivize a company to include heavy advertising scripts and pesky overlays, or examine the market challenges that force a publisher to adopt something like AMP.
In other words, the way we talk about slow websites needs to be much, much broader. If we can do that, then we’ll have a sharper understanding of where—and how—the web can be faster.
It’s a systemic state of the industry problem that breeds slow websites. The cultural fight to fix it is perhaps just as important as the technical fights. Not that there isn’t a lot to learn and deal with on a technical level.
- Embrace performance budgets and learn to live within them.
- Every interaction is the start of a new ‘Time-to-Interactive’; consider optimizations in this context.
this is not specific to websites: the rebound effect is the reduction in expected gains from new technologies that increase the efficiency of resource use, because of behavioral or other systemic responses.
It’s so refreshing and joyful when folks have the same thoughts and concerns about the “slowness of the common web” like oneself does have. One always feels like Don Quixote,fighting against giants, which in fact are windmills. The best form to compell clients into giving in to web performance optimization nowadays is, to explain about loading speeds on mobile platforms. It’s still a sad thing that you have to come up with such trickery to get something so important done.
Right now I’m working on converting a site to much better loading times, which right now has the most horrible on-load times, esp. the home page, which chimes in at approx. 6,7 MB. The worst part with the latter one is: There is next to no content on it that would sanctify this huge amount of data to load. It’s just a very generic home page with a simple header slideshow, some text, a small image-based sub-navigation with some animations, another bigger chunk of text, and then a long gallery. I’ve calculated that instead of 6,7 MB we could reduce the loading times down to about 800 kb, also introducing lazyloading / on-demand loading of additional resources (mostly images). This is achieved by porting the currently used multipurpose premium theme to a more generic, reduced, regular open source theme, ie. the classic _s (underscores) :)
Next on, by throwing out the current Page Builder and replacing it with Advanced Custom Fields Pro and cleverly build Page Templates, the processing time should be reduced up to 80% (meaning: 1 – 2 seconds initial loading time instead of the current 4 – 6 seconds, maybe even scratching the 0.9 second mark).
Some of the additional measures are going to be:
– mostly static CSS generated via SASS and optionally some simple admin-UI only options framework to change important variables (like basic colors, typography and the likes)
– an image optimizer plugin I forked a few years ago from CW Image Optimizer
– better resource handling in general
– loading all resources from the same place, including fonts, with the goal of next to none external requests to optimally use local caching and statification measures