Faster Websites Make the Web Faster

Chrome might bloat-shame websites

created Nov 11, 2019

"Moving towards a faster web (chromium.org)"

https://blog.chromium.org/2019/11/moving-towards-faster-web.html

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21508339

Bloat-shaming poorly designed websites that try to force readers to download potentially nefarious scumware has merit, but I distrust Google's intentions. It could be another shell game by Google. Pretend to care while attempting to gobble up more of the web for its own financial benefit.

Hacker News comment:

This reads to me as an attempt from Google to further balkanize the web.

Another HN comment:

My experience with everything google has touched lately suggest that this wouldn't improve speed any. Gmail and youtube make continental drift look speedy and even the search page takes 1.4MB and takes over a second to load for me (maybe corporate network issue), that's approaching the size of doom to display a dozen links.

Google doesn't have any moral authority when it comes to bloat.

Complaint by an HN user:

Speaking as a real user, let me assure you that website speed definitely falls under real user concerns. I don't know how much I'd use this indicator, but loading speed matters to me. Loading speed matters a lot.

Blame modern web design practices that have been used over the past five years. Websites designed between 2010 and 2014 that used responsive web design and progressive enhancement were still relatively smallish. But over the past few years, forget about it.

HN reply to the above user's comment:

You know what loads fast? Web pages. What doesn't? User tracking applications that happen to host some content. :(

Hah. Most media websites today are user tracking applications that allegedly host content.

From the Google blog post:

In the future, Chrome may identify sites that typically load fast or slow for users with clear badging. This may take a number of forms and we plan to experiment with different options, to determine which provides the most value to our users.

Badging is intended to identify when sites are authored in a way that makes them slow generally, looking at historical load latencies.

The Google post did not mention that slow-loading websites are environmentally unfriendly.

If the so-called website is actually a complex web application that requires people to log into the site in order to complete tasks, then this discussion does not apply. Such websites (web apps) could include those that permit private functions, such as banking, tax prep, and project management.

If it's a content-based website meant for readers to consume text and images and logging into the site may only be needed if it's a subscription-based website, like with theathletic.com, then this discussion applies.

For brilliant web design, this is the gold standard for content-based media websites: https://text.npr.org. It's fast-loading because it's simply designed. It's a lightweight website that uses a reader-friendly, useful web design because the site actually focuses on what's important: the content.

Imagine a content-based website making its content the interface or the most important aspect of the site's design. Such a design is rebellious in 2019 even though it still works for utilitarian website craigslist.org.

Do users clamor for bloated, slow-loading, clunky-to-use websites? If so, then users would reject Craigslist because of its so-called retro but useful web design.

Compared to text.npr.org, This media website https://toledoblade.com is the opposite of useful. It's filled with trackers, ads, and other crapware. With JavaScript disabled, the pages are blank because the article content is stored in JSON text and not within HTML tags. A 500-word opinion piece forces unsuspecting readers to download 3 to 5 megabytes of cruft. For text.

How does a newspaper that started in the early 19th century fail to display text humanely over the web?

Like most of today's modern web designs, The Blade's website provides a hostile user experience EVEN for subscribers. It's almost as if the Blade is discouraging people from using its website. It would be like patronizing a coffee shop and getting pounded by pillow case full of oranges. Why return?

The Blade's website in the fall of 2019 is probably slower to load over a fast home internet connection than the 2002 version of its website when users accessed the internet with over dial-up modems.

This is one of my test websites, meant to promote an idea for a humane web, designed for readers.

http://md.soupmode.com - this is the only HTML page that exists on this website, which explains what I'm doing with this test site.

http://md.soupmode.com/home.md - the real homepage.

The display (typography) is controlled by the readers.

That MD site does not use text/html, text/json, nor text/xml. It only uses text/plain. HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are not downloaded from the server.

The markup is CommonMark, which is a form of Markdown.

Client-side tools, such as a Markdown browser (does not exist) or web browser extensions, will download the Markdown text/plain content and display it nicely to readers, according to the readers' desires. Readers can choose themes or upload their own custom CSS.

A real Markdown web browser, however, would make typographical choices easier for users to control. The browser may still provide power users the option to upload CSS.

The display of web content should be controlled by readers, similar to how readers can control some typographical functions within electronic book readers.

But today's web has been commandeered by corporations that want to force users to consume content according to the businesses. The corporatified web removes typographical controls from readers. The corporatified web has made the web less secure and less private for readers.

Readers can install one or more web browser extensions to make the web "safer" to use. I rely on Quick JavaScript Switcher to disable and enable JavaScript easily on a per site basis. I also use uMatrix and Privacy Badger to limit the client-side shenanigans attempted by too many websites.

Readers can also use the Tor web browser, which is based upon Firefox. Using Tor makes websites load slower because of the onion routing, but lightweight websites, such as text.npr.org, still load fairly quickly over Tor.

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