Jeremy Sarber

Websites should not be so slow

Commenting on my website’s most recent design, a friend remarked, Looks like you built it about twenty years ago.”

Thank you for noticing,” I said. And you’re welcome.”

Let’s pretend CNN is your preferred news source. You peruse its articles on your tablet each morning as you sip coffee. You wait up to forty seconds for one page on to load. Distractions abound. Advertisements, late-loading images, flashes of un-styled text, pop-ups that fill the screen, unrelated sidebar content, videos that play without your consent—you are either remarkably patient or don’t realize CNN offers a better, faster, lighter version of their website.

Compare an article on the full version of CNNs site with the same article on its lite” version. As the following image will show, is nearly forty-two seconds faster than

an article on versus

The full version is slow and full of distractions while the other is fast and refreshingly minimal. Which would you rather read?

If I visit a webpage to read less than five-hundred words of text, I cannot think of one good reason why I should have to wait forty-two seconds or download six megabytes of data. Plenty of responsible web developers would agree with me:

Consider that the entirety of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is 708 kilobytes. To download this much data using a very slow mobile connection would be around one second (try it for yourself by reading it on Project Gutenberg). Pride and Prejudice is over 200 pages long, and would take over three hours to read. Certainly a news article, tweet, or product catalog can be downloaded and rendered in a comparable amount of time to a novel. (Guidelines for Brutalist Web Design)

Publishers have created a web-abusive, reader-hostile web. In 2016, single web pages from many media sites ranged from 5 to 10 megabytes in size, but the body of many of these articles was simple text. A single web page may make hundreds of requests to JavaScript, trackers, ads, etc. These types of web pages can bog down older CPUs, and they can create a clunky user experience on phones. Disturbingly, some people blame the web or browsers for the slowness, instead of blaming the publishers for creating bloated websites. (Manifesto for Lightweight Web Pages

Just start with one page, with a single focus. Write it and publish it, and then iterate on that. Every time you’re about to add something, ask yourself: does this help me communicate better? Will that additional styling, image, or hyperlink give my audience more understanding? If the answer is no,” don’t add it. At its heart, web design should be about words. Words don’t come after the design is done. Words are the beginning, the core, the focus. (This is a web page.)

The best way to make pages fast, is to have less stuff on them. I’ll forgive you for wanting to punch me in the face as this is obvious. And yet web pages keep getting bigger. Do we need background videos, modal dialogs and social media buttons plastered everywhere? The answer from the people is a no. The fastest feature is one we never build. (Designing for actual performance)

By simplifying our sites we achieve greater reach, better performance, and more reliable conveying of the information which is at the core of any website. (A Simpler Web

I have a simple website because I publish words. If you’re interested in reading my words, I give them to you as efficiently as I know how.

my website’s performance scores