Study Shows Web Pages Growing More Bloated – Taking Longer to Load

by on March 7th, 2015
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When the World Wide Web first started catching on, web pages appeared to load rather slowly because most people accessed the Internet with slow dial-up modem connections. Things seemed to pick up though as more and more people opted for much faster broadband connections. In response, people that made web pages saw an opportunity to add more things, such as high resolution images, and perhaps more importantly, embedded code that did things like track the number of user visits. Unfortunately, all this added stuff has, according to HTTP Archive, made the average web page load much slower than it used to. What’s worse, says a recent report by the BBC, is that users that visit web sites using their cell phones are finding some sites load so slow they refuse to wait and simply go somewhere else.

It all comes down to a trade-off between trying to offer site visitors what they claim to want, and access speed, says Ryan Kim of gigaom. With the average web site page now at 965 KB, up from 726 a year ago, users are really starting to notice. Where once a page from a mainstream site such as USAToday newspaper, seemed to load almost right away, most users now find they have to wait a moment. For users accessing such pages on their cell phones, the wait has grown too long, reminiscent of early dial-up speeds.

HTTP Archive keeps track of the size of the top 1000 sites on the Internet and publishes the results in graph form on its own website, which many users may find ironic because that site appears bloated as well, taking just as long, if not longer to load, than many of the sites it tracks. But that’s beside the point, what matters here, is that HTTP Archive has found a steady trend up in web page size over the past decade and doesn’t see any changes in that upward curve, despite the complaints by Smartphone users.

What’s interesting, the BBC points out, is that many overly large web pages could be made smaller by using simple optimization tools. The problem is, so many web sites are now created and run by people that don’t have sufficient training in efficiency techniques. Thus, they use off the shelf products to create their sites which too often are bogged down by not only unnecessary bells and whistles, but long inefficient code that not only takes up a lot of memory, but runs slowly to boot.

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