Website performance is like the weather

Everyone talks about it but nobody does anything about it.

Consider the following chart representing the “weight” of mobile home pages from the 2021 Web Globalization Report Card.

This year, the average mobile home page weighs more than 9MB.

Depending on your network connection, a website at this weight could take between 5 and 10 seconds (or much longer) to load.

Google, with its Core Web Vitals initiative, is pushing websites to load and respond more quickly. It notes “To provide a good user experience, LCP (largest contentful paint) should occur within 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading.” In other words, your web page needs to display in three seconds, ideally less.

Consider CNN, which could take 7 seconds or longer to fully display. Fortunately, CNN also provides a “lite” experience that loads exceptionally fast.

Wouldn’t it be far better if CNN could aim for something squarely in the middle of the two?

Set a 3MB weight limit

I’m always surprised by the number of extraneous visuals that find their way into websites simply to fill allotted “hero” slots. Advertising and tracking code are also major contributors to CNN’s bloat.

Set a weight limit — and stick with it.

Performance is a competitive advantage, an SEO advantage.

And, most importantly of all, it’s what we, the internet users, want.

PS: To dive into many the technical ins and outs of this issue, check out this article from Alex Russell on the mobile performance inequality gap.