Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Designed Lines

Ethan Marcotte:

In our industry, we’re getting better at talking about the commercial costs of slow, heavy websites. But there’s a human cost, too.

This is, of course, once we get past the many, many inequalities woven into the institutions and infrastructure that provide internet access to Americans. For one example, take this study suggesting that AT&T has engaged in a form of “digital redlining”, excluding poor Cleveland neighborhoods from quality, reliable broadband.

Because broadband has become far more commonplace, there seems to be a tendency to assume that virtually everyone — with the exception of those in developing nations — has a connection capable of supporting dozens of tracking scripts, autoplaying videos, and gigantic header images. Two observations:

  1. Slow internet speeds persist in developed nations, whether on a temporary basis — such as on a smartphone in a crowded city or low-signal zone — and on a more permanent, designed basis, as AT&T has created in Cleveland.

  2. Why create a website that’s exclusionary to those who do live in developing nations with slower-speed connections? Building lightweight, fast websites benefits everybody.