Over the past few years web pages have started to increase in size at quite an alarming rate. You may not have noticed this if you mainly access the web using a desktop of laptop.
However, if you commonly use a mobile device you may have been wondering why accessing the web can be slow and your phone just swallows up data like there's no tomorrow. Well, the answer probably lies in the size of the web pages you're downloading. According to HTTP Archive Report, the average web page weight now has just topped 2Mb. If that's not huge, tell me what is.
How and why has this happened?
I believe there are a number of reasons why this has happened:
- The technology is there
- We want a good end user experience
- Website owners are keen to make sure they've got it all
- Perhaps even web developers are keen to show they can do it all!
This isn't a comprehensive list af all that's required in planning a website. For some websites you'll be able to get by with less, and for others you'll need more in depth planning.
We've got the technology
The end user experience
The end user wants a good experience, where information is delivered in a form they can understand and that is visually attractive. Further, end users want a dynamic and interactive experience. The real question that needs to be asked by both website owners and designers is when is enough enough. Just because you can do it, does that necessarily mean you should.
Perceived requirements of the website owner
Website owners really have a vested interest in their website - hardly surprising if you think about it. They want to ensure they sufficiently engage with their online visitor so that they do whatever they are supposed to do. Often, however, the more functionality added to the page does not necessarily mean more customers.
When these three elements are put together an explosive mix can be created for the mobile user. Regardless of the size of the device on which the site is viewed the whole site and all it's assets are downloaded. Thus, an image that spreads right across your browser on your desktop will generally be the same image that will be downloaded on a mobile phone.
It's a hard one, but when developing a website we need to decide where on the continuum between 'Performance' and 'User experience' we are going to pitch our site. Or, perhaps we're missing the point, perhaps Performance is the ultimate in the User exerience.