I've been thinking about the performance of my site and how it affects the user experience. There are real, ethical concerns to poor web performance. These include accessibility, inclusion, waste and environmental concerns.
A faster site is more accessible, and therefore more inclusive for people visiting from a mobile device, or from areas in the world with slow or expensive internet.
For those reasons, I decided to see if I could improve the performance of my site. I used the excellent https://webpagetest.org to benchmark a simple blog post https://dri.es/relentlessly-eliminating-barriers-to-growth.
The image above shows that it took a browser 0.722 seconds to download and render the page (see blue vertical line):
- The first 210 milliseconds are used to set up the connection, which includes the DNS lookup, TCP handshake and the SSL negotiation.
By most standards, 0.722 seconds is pretty fast. In fact, according to HTTP Archive, it takes more than 2.4 seconds to download and render the average web page on a laptop or desktop computer.
To fix, I did two things:
- Conditionally include CSS. For example, I use Prism.js for syntax highlighting code snippets in blog posts.
prism.csswas downloaded for every page request, even when there were no code snippets to highlight. Using Drupal's render system, it's easy to conditionally include CSS. By taking advantage of that, I was able to reduce the amount of CSS downloaded by 47 percent — from 4.7 KB to 2.5 KB.
|File type||Dri.es before||Dri.es after||World-wide median|
|CSS||4.7 KB||2.5 KB||60 KB|
To optimize the user experience of my site, I want it to be fast. I hope that others will see that bloated websites can come at a great cost, and will consider using tools like https://webpagetest.org to make their sites more performant.
I'll keep working on making my website even faster. As a next step, I plan to make pages with images faster by using lazy image loading.
— Dries Buytaert
Dries Buytaert is an Open Source advocate and technology executive. More than 10,000 people are subscribed to his blog. Sign up to have new posts emailed to you or subscribe using RSS. Write to Dries Buytaert at firstname.lastname@example.org.