Bored of buffering? Web pages loading at a glacial pace? Spend half your life watching that little digital hamster wheel spin round? Well according to CNN there are six reasons why the internet is now officially getting slower:
- Site size – The average size of a website is now 2.1MB. Now that doesn’t seem like much but in fairness there are quite a few websites out there (the number finally breached the 1 billion mark last year according to Netcraft and ILS) and according to recent data from HTTP Archive the size of websites has more than doubled from just 1MB only three years ago.
- Video & Images – One of the main reasons why websites are so much bigger is the increasing proliferation of video content, images and associated interactivity plug-ins (the ability to leave comments etc.). These take up around 73 per cent of the size of most websites.
- Tracking – An increasing number of sites have significantly ramped up their usage of tracking and analysis tools to learn a lot more about the people who are visiting. These third party trackers not only increase the size of the website but also the number of separate data fetching tasks which in turn leads to much slower loading times.
- Formats – As the number of smartphones, tablets, watches and other connected devices are designed to go online developers need to create specific versions of their websites to accommodate the increasing number of formats. To put that into perspective, some websites require more than 50 different image sizes of a picture which can be called upon to load dependent upon the type of device used.
- Security – As hackers become more elaborate and devious, many companies are having to resort to ever stronger encryption to ensure they are secure. These more sophisticated barriers in turn require more code, which necessitates more data crunching power – et voila slower download speeds.
- Custom fonts – In an attempt to differentiate, many developers are resorting to the use of customised fonts. Three years ago font transfer only accounted for around one per cent of a webpage’s size. And now? It has risen to an astonishing five per cent.
The implications for business are clear. If your site is slow to load for any of the reasons cited above then you run the real risk of your consumer quickly switching to a faster one – which may be the website of one of your biggest competitors. Every millisecond counts…
And as a user? Well you can’t do much about any of the aforementioned issues. But you can make your browsing experience a little perkier by following a few simple tips:
- Close down any programs you are not using
- Optimise your browser to one which works best on your device for the types of sites you visit (eg. Google Chrome, Firefox and Opera are often recommended for various reasons to enhance loading speeds)
- Remove unwanted add-ons, extensions and plugins (non essential stuff like skins, themes etc.) as they just slow everything down
- Ensure you close down any tabs you are not using – many popular pages, like Facebook and Twitter, automatically refresh themselves every few minutes and chew up unnecessary bandwidth