Internet Rationing: Can you survive on just 8 pages a day?

Ministry of Internet ration book
It’s easy to forget the speed of the internet can be painfully slow for some users. I’m often reminded how bad it can be when I’m commuting to work trying to browse the web with a 2G signal.

The speed of a web page can be attributed to lots of different factors but the key one is the overall page size. Over the last three years the average size of a web page has doubled surpassing the 2 MB mark and if the rate continues in 2017 it could be over 3 MB.

Why is web page bloat a problem?

Obviously the increase in page size has a big impact on how quickly we can access information when we are out and about. But what is often overlooked is the extra cost of browsing the web.

My monthly mobile data allowance and the UK average is 500 MB. This means without taking into account WiFi access I can view just eight pages (on average) a day without incurring extra cost. This figure gets even worse when you include the data used by apps.

Block ads, browse faster

Users are finding ways to stretch their daily internet ration by installing ad blockers.

In the UK ad blocking grew by 82% to reach 12 million active users in 12 months up to June 2015.

Perhaps at first glance the rise in ad blockers may seem unrelated to the increase in the size of web pages. But, an ad blockers key function is to remove content users won’t miss. According to a study by Tech Week you could save 40% of your bandwidth using an ad blocker and increase your battery life by as much as 21%.

I’m not supporting or condoning the use of as blockers but I do think their rapid adoption should set some alarm bells ringing.

As developers we want our websites to do more but this is impacting on how accessible they are. Web accessibility isn’t just about making your website easy to use for people with disabilities. It is about making sure you remove any barriers to access including the size of your web page.

Check the size of your favourite website by going to Pingdom Website Speed Test and let us know if you could survive with your daily eight page ration.

@peterbrumby, Digital Communications Manager for The Co-operative Group.

7 thoughts on “Internet Rationing: Can you survive on just 8 pages a day?

  1. Richard November 9, 2015 / 10:16 am

    That’s a thought provoking piece Peter – like it.

    Like

  2. tin November 9, 2015 / 4:07 pm

    It’s facts that the average page size is getting bigger however, that blog post on SOASTA is most likely based on desktop viewing because mobile is not mentioned.
    Responsive design and separate mobile optimised sites are now more common anyway. This gives developers effective ways of quickly serving up web pages on mobile devices – adaptive imaging, unnecessary element exclusion etc.

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    • Peter Brumby November 10, 2015 / 10:27 am

      Hi Tin. I agree there are lots of ways to improve how quickly a web page is served. However unless they are considered when the site is designed and then managed on a day to day basis they often get forgotten about. I think it costs me just under 2p to view a 2MB web page. Developers have to think about the cost to the end user and decide if that cost is too high.

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      • Tin November 10, 2015 / 10:44 am

        Hi Peter.
        Of course I completely agree and it’s an interest point you raise about considering costs to the end user together with usability.
        What I am trying to say is that we should be measuring page size more accurately based on the device that the page is rendered on. For example the page size of bbc news may well be 1.5mb when viewed on desktop however, when viewed on a mobile it may be considerably lower due to it’s responsive design.

        On a separate note, have you looked into AMP project? As JavaScript is not supported, it’ll be interesting to see if analytics providers will support the project and start offering pixel based solutions.

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      • Peter Brumby November 10, 2015 / 2:37 pm

        Hi Tin. All good points. I’ll do some tests of my own.

        Thanks for a reminder about the AMP project. I had a very brief look at it before I went on my hols. I got as far as bookmarking the page thinking I would go back and read it in detail. FYI for everyone else we are talking about this https://www.ampproject.org/

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  3. emmainterquest November 9, 2015 / 5:25 pm

    Interesting post @peterbrumby. From looking at Pingdom – something like Reddit is 550KB but the BBC News website (which devours most of my morning commute) is 1.5MB.

    I would imagine 8 news stories could read/flicked over in minutes.. if not seconds!

    Can I ask what what effect you think this has with company websites? Should we be downsizing?

    Em @ InterQuest

    Like

    • Peter Brumby November 10, 2015 / 10:28 am

      Thanks EM for your comment.

      The stats I quoted in the article are averages, however as your example illustrates page sizes can vary dramatically. Every website is different but we should always be thinking about our users. The important point is to not forget that just because your site runs quickly on your broadband connection, the experience might not be the same when using a 3G connection.

      For any site it is always good to think about a performance budget. You can find out more about performance budgets here http://danielmall.com/articles/how-to-make-a-performance-budget/

      Like

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