Trimming the Fat

I recently watched this video of a talk given by Maciej Ceglowski, creator of Pinboard, on The Website Obesity Crisis – a worrying trend that’s been on the increase since the early 2000s which has seen websites grown larger and larger in their size for no particular reason other than aesthetics.

Many of the humourous examples Maciej cites were large websites and publications1, though it did make me wonder if, perhaps, some sites that appear to be pretty trim are actually just hiding their weight with flattering frameworks or responsive outfits.

Now, regular visitors to my site will have noticed it’s got a slightly new look for 20162. While it doesn’t look like much has changed, other than some tweaks to the colour scheme, I’ve changed a lot behind the scenes to make this website a lot leaner and data-friendly.

Before I made these changes, my website was using the following technologies:

After stepping back and taking a look at how my site was used and viewed, I realised I didn’t need any of this. In the end, this was all wasted resources, redundantly loaded with every page view.

I decided to remove all of this and, honestly, I think the site looks better for it. The site loads super-quick, there’s no JavaScript, it doesn’t rely on custom fonts and the only assets loaded are images that may be part of a blog post.

What’s more, the site is easier to maintain. The markup is so much cleaner3 and easier to read now that I’m not using a responsive framework and the number of lines of code is less than half it was before. Considering this website is mostly text, I’m embarrassed at how much weight gain it had suffered from.

If you run your own blog or personal website that you maintain yourself, it might be time to take a look to see if it might be time to put it on a diet. Does your website need that fancy parallax view or Proxima Nova?

  1. The Google example of a huge amount of data being loaded again and again is both hilarious and shocking. 

  2. Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that I began serving pages via HTTPS a couple of months ago. 

  3. Removing the Foundation framework was much tricker, as it has a very sophisticated, but complex, HTML markup. However, the amount of markup used in each page has basically been halved since I’ve done away with it, resulting in more compact and cleaner code.