Average Web Page Size Up 15 Percent in 2014: Report

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As 2014 draws to a close, the latest data from the HTTP Archive shows that the average web page grew 15 percent to almost 2Mb in the past year. That rate of increase is down from 30 percent in 2012 and 32 percent last year.

The largest area of increase is CSS, which takes up 24 percent more memory than a year ago, followed by images, which already represented half of the size of the average web page and increased by 21 percent.

UK web consultant Craig Buckler suggests that responsive web design and CSS3 animations account for much of the CSS difference, but notes that JavaScript has not fallen accordingly, increasing seven percent.

Given that Restive found in February that only three percent of websites are both fast on and responsive to mobile devices, the growth in responsive design was and likely remains inevitable, but may be of little value to organizations loading up their web pages with graphics and interactive code.

Flash memory use fell by 13 percent, the only major reduction in web page size, as the number of sites using flash fell by five percent to 27 percent.

Buckler also notes that the average PageSpeed score is 78, which he says is surprising “given the bloat.” Buckler still considers the growth a problem, and he puts the blame squarely on developers, and their laziness in the face of uncomprehending clients and endlessly available excuses.

“Whether it’s technical boundaries or a failure to explain issues, it’s still laziness. We work at the coal face; the final decisions are ours alone. Why create a badly-optimized site when many bloat-blasting solutions are simple and take minutes to implement?” Buckler asks. “Clients rarely appreciate the efficiency gains we make but they don’t understand anything we do. We are the experts, and minimizing page weight is an essential part of the job. Do it. It’s easier to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission.”

With traffic and purchases moving from desktops to mobile devices, those clients have an incentive to make their pitch efficiently with small, fast-loading web pages.

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