News Sites Are Fatter and Slower Than Ever

Frédéric Filloux:

Two major industry trends should force us to reconsider the way we build our digital properties. The first one is the rise of ad blockers that pride themselves at providing faster navigation and at putting less strain on computers. Users made publishers pay the hard price for giving up browsing comfort and speed: in some markets, more than 50% of visitors use ad-blocking extensions.

The second trend is the rise of mobile surfing that account for half of pageviews in mature markets. And, in emerging countries, users leapfrog desktops and access the web en masse through mobile.

Interestingly, because of the way AdBlock is built and the number of iframes that are on popular websites, AdBlock often slows down browsers, though Filloux found otherwise. Apple’s new integrated content blocker doesn’t have this issue. But that’s something of an aside.

As much as I complain about JavaScript trackers and the like slowing the web down, I can’t help but think that part of the problem with news sites, specifically, is the number of them that try to bring the print experience online. Web fonts are slow to render, but really popular, especially with news sites. The same goes for very complex dynamic layouts. News sites seem to take the slowest elements of the web and bundle them together into one tedious package.