A recent article published on The Verge has yet again raised the question of web performance. In this article the author suggests that lack of browser diversity on iOS is one of the root causes of this mobile web performance issue. As many pundits have noted, ourselves included, there is deep irony in a notoriously bloated website such as The Verge making this complaint. If you leave aside all of the extraneous content, Nilay's article had about 9.5KB of text content and 310KB of images. Yet the total page weight is a whopping 3.6MB or more, depending on the ads you get served.
Some server-side website optimisation could have saved quite a bit of page weight in this case e.g. some image optimisation. But unfortunately the bigger culprits here are the business choices that sites such as The Verge and many others make. In an attempt to monetize their content they have wrapped it in an extraordinary amount of ads, trackers and general cruft to the point that the core content can barely breathe under its weight. Users are beginning to revolt (just look at the comments)—bloated sites like this are part of the reason that people prefer native apps.
I'm reminded of something Ireland's minister for transport said about traffic in Dublin: "If we think we can all drive into the city center for 9am each morning, one person per car, we don't have a traffic problem. We have an intelligence problem." You simply can't burden a website with all this stuff an expect it to perform well.
To their credit, Vox Media (the company behind The Verge and other sites) have admitted that they have a problem in a public declaration of performance bankruptcy. We at DeviceAtlas hope that others will follow their lead and that this marks a turning point for web performance.
We'll be talking more about how you can deliver world-class web performance at NGINX.conf 15 in San Francisco on September 22-24.
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