14 Aug 2018

I Have Met the Bullshit Web

I have met the Bullshit Web, and it is me.

It’s not that I intended to create a bloated webpage, and I don’t think anyone ever leads with that intention. But it’s terribly easy to do. In fact, all you need to do is follow all the “current best practices”, and what you’ll end up with is bullshit – potentially orders of magnitude more of it than actual content.

I didn’t think too hard about this when I migrated by ancient blog from its crusty Perl-based foundations onto a ‘modern’ static site generator, with an inoffensive pre-built template I tweaked slightly. But looking at its load times in Chrome, it’s amazing how a few small decisions – “oh hey, let’s use a nice web font!” – can add hundreds of kilobytes and full seconds onto an initial page load.

Hopefully we’re on the cusp of a return to web minimalism, as the performance curve of end-user devices (particularly mobile devices) starts to flatten out; it simply won’t be possible to continue to cram quite so much shit into each page, and assume that faster connections and rendering engines will make it acceptable.

But that will require a shift in thinking among everyone who creates content for the web, where the performance cost of each “nice-to-have” feature is weighed, and nothing is tossed in just for the heck of it, or because that’s what “everyone else is doing”.