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Ten years of page bloat, easier third-party monitoring & getting started with performance

Mar 1, 2022


Hi there,

As many parts of our world are carefully opening back up, I feel an optimism and excitement I haven't felt since early 2020.

I've noticed that our web performance world is opening up, as well. As someone who's been a member of this community for more than a decade, I can attest that it's sometimes been a struggle to reach people outside the #webperf hashtag. But it feels like that's changing (no doubt somewhat because of Google's Core Web Vitals). I'm talking to more and more folks who come from the SEO, CRO, and UX communities. It's a fantastic opportunity to learn as much as I teach, and I am 100% here for it.

As much as I love looking to the future, it's also fascinating to look at the past. Keep reading to learn more about our investigation into ten years of page growth data to see how bloated modern web pages have become. This edition of our newsletter also contains inspiring case studies, detailed how-tos, and a guide to getting started with performance that I'm a little envious I didn't write myself.

It's impossible to think about the opportunities that so many of us are fortunate to have right now – not least being the privilege to live our ordinary lives – without also thinking of the devastating and senseless war in Ukraine. Our thoughts and hearts are with the Ukrainian people. SpeedCurve has donated $20,000 to UNICEF to deliver urgent supplies – such as clean water, health supplies, hygiene kits, and trauma services – to children and families. If you can, please consider helping.

Until next time, I hope you stay safe, happy, and well.



Ten years of page bloat: What have we learned?

I looked at ten years of HTTP Archive data and found that the median web page is 3X bigger for desktop and a whopping 7X bigger for mobile. I wrote about this and other findings, along with addressing a few big questions you might care about:

  • How does page bloat hurt your business?
  • How does page bloat affect other metrics, such as Google's Core Web Vitals?
  • Is it possible to have large pages that deliver a good user experience?
  • What can we do to manage our pages and fight regression?

How to diagnose a third-party regression

Ads, analytics, and social widgets can seriously hurt the performance of your site. If you have dozens (or more!) third parties on a page, it can be tricky to figure out which one is the source of your pain. In his latest instalment in our How to Investigate Performance Issues video series, Cliff (@cliffcrocker) walks you through the process of identifying a problematic third-party using your First & Third Party, Compare, and Test Details dashboards.

SEO and performance

Great web performance isn't a substitute for poor content. But assuming that your content is amazing, we created a guide for understanding, tracking, and optimizing the metrics that affect your search rank. It covers:

  • Why performance matters for SEO
  • Which metrics to focus on, including Core Web Vitals
  • How to make your pages faster and improve page rank
  • How to track SEO-related metrics, set budgets for them, and get alerts when those budgets are violated

Mark your calendar!

We're very excited to be supporters of some of our favourite in-person events returning this year!

I'm hoping to get to at least a couple of these events. Maybe I'll see you there!

From the #webperf community...

So much great stuff has come out of our community lately, from case studies to practical how-tos:

  • Get started with web performance – Sometimes you need fresh eyes to see things clearly. If you've been working in the performance space for a while, it's super helpful to hear the experience of someone who's tackling performance for the first time. Whether you're new to performance or an old-timer (like me), this case study by Jim Maclean is a must-read.
  • Performance culture at Farfetch – All the fancy performance monitoring tools in the world won't help if you don't have buy-in from everyone in your organization who touches your website. That means designers, marketers, engineers, SEO folks, and execs. In this video, Manuel Garcia talks about introducing a performance mindset in a big company and creating an authentic culture around it.
  • Full speed ahead for Maersk booking – I love a good performance story, especially when it focuses on the right metrics. In this extremely detailed case study, Steve Workman shares how the team at Maersk rebuilt their booking app, which resulted in a 47% faster median Largest Contentful Paint (1.7s) and 3.8s LCP at the 75th percentile. Great stuff!
  • Speed matters, but it isn't everything – The folks at Indeed are no strangers to performance. In this case study, Ben Cripps shares how they improved rendering metrics by up to 40% but also learned that speed isn't always the most important indicator of user experience.
  • How Apollo GraphQL had a major impact on our microsite performance – Another great case study, this time from our friends at Wehkamp. Berry de Witte shares "a story of a journey we made with one of our microsites... How in the end, less became performant."
  • Performance signals for customizing website UX – Serve the most important content, especially to users who are in low-data environments (e.g., mobile, poor bandwidth). It's a simple #web performance principle, but not always easy to execute. Some excellent best practices from Barry Pollard in this Smashing Magazine article.