Companies grow. Product lines expand. Websites bloat. Many people assume that bloat happens to all websites, therefore it’s not really a problem. (“Everyone does it.”) But if you care about your site visitors, you won’t go that route. Website page weight seems to increase every year, and many pages these days weigh 1.7mb or more.
Too many designers think that with high-speed Internet connections, extra page weight doesn’t matter any more. They’re wrong.
Site bloat shows that you don’t really care about your site visitors. It’s not as if you put up a sign that says, “We don’t care” – but if your website makes your visitors wait (and wait), they get the message. You’re rude.
Site bloat happens when your site has lost the important values of simplicity and transparency. It’s when the site gets in the way of what you’re trying to say. De-bloat your site, and keep it looking good and running fast.
Image compression is essential. The goal of image compression is reducing image-data redundancy for efficient transmission. Minor (sometimes imperceptible) loss of fidelity is acceptable in order to achieve speed. Lossy compression that produces imperceptible differences may be called visually lossless.
Image optimization is using the most compressed (smallest file size) yet visually acceptable image. There are two main reasons for image optimization: Download time (page-load speed) and bandwidth conservation (service fees.)
Not many viewers notice a fast site – but everyone notices a slow one.
You don’t have to be a web expert to know that page-load speed is just as important as great content and aesthetic appeal. Bloated, slow websites frustrate site visitors, and many will bail out and go elsewhere before they ever see your wonderful content. People are in a hurry, and are intolerant of slow websites. If your site is slow, they will immediately go elsewhere to get what they want.
Too many graphics on one page defeats your purpose if users don’t wait until the page loads. Pixel-perfect, paper-behind-glass websites are unproductive if they load so slowly that visitors don’t wait around to see them. You have to do better.
The Web Happiness Equation predicts success or failure. Included in this equation are page-load speed, the look of the site (is it attractively designed?), simplified content density, and content relevance. While all factors are important, speed is the one factor we think is not only very important, but is also the easiest to improve. No doubt you’ve heard a lot about branding. You’ve probably heard that nothing is more important to the success of your website than branding. We disagree. While the expressive and complex aesthetics of branding, along with the repetition might do some good, over-branding can result in cluttered pages, along with deadly bloat.
Sensory overload. Expressive aesthetics often do nothing more than create visual noise, and detract from the real purpose of your website. Branding requires good judgment and creative restraint.
Gotta have both. Eye candy distracts. But a bare-bones look doesn’t attract. Just as we’ve explained about optimizing your graphics for a balance of file size and good looks, it’s up to you to apply the same principles of balance to the content on every page in your website.
What’s your speed grade?
We recommend a Google PageSpeed score of at least 85. Get below 85, and your site may be penalized in some search-engine rankings. (This ranking dogma has proven to not be true. A myth.) Google is sending a message that they prefer fast-loading sites, and may exact a penalty for those sites that load too slowly.
Taking a large 300ppi image and forcing it to resize in the browser produces an inferior screen image compared to one that is properly sized first. All the high-resolution beauty is actually destroyed with that method. Forced looks like it needs to be sharpened – fuzzy.
So two reasons to do it right: Everything loads faster and images look better.
Why bloat happens?
- Fear of being perceived as insignificant.
- Designer is not using themes properly.
- A common mistake is the belief that a good site includes everything.
- Not using file compression.
- Feature creep.
- Constantly adding features and tweaks.