It’s not your imagination, and it’s not because AT&T – and possibly others — is purposefully cutting speeds to unlimited data plan users. The real reason: Websites are growing in size, causing slower load times.
The average website is now 2.1 MB in size, compared to 1.5 MB two years ago, according to HTTP Archive, an Internet data measurement company. Multiple reasons can explain this increase in size.
Sites have been adding more content in an effort to drum up traffic, such as videos, engaging images, interactive plug-ins (comments and feeds) and other code and script-heavy features. Websites are becoming more and more technically advanced, and other sites have to keep adding features to stay competitive.
To keep up with the rapidly increasing number of users accessing sites on various platforms, developers are offering more versions of websites as well as apps to accommodate all devices, including smartphones, watches, tablets, and other gadgets. All of these versions require additional code, ultimately adding to the weight of a given website.
Then there are the advertisers who want to get the user’s attention by creating dramatic displays for their products that consume even more bandwidth.
Websites also want to know who is visiting their pages, both welcome and unwelcome visitors. New tools that track and analyze visitors have increased in popularity, as well as stronger encryption technology to add more security. These security measures and trackers require more code, again slowing load times.
Unfortunately for websites trying to keep up with the times, Google has just introduced a new ‘Slow to Load’ warning sign in mobile search results. Since mobile searches account for more than half of the total Google searches in 10 countries, Google wants to enhance user experience for those on their mobile platform.
Although the weight of a website isn’t all that contributes to slow loading, it’s a major factor. Other reasons include users overusing data, a poor connection, or a high level of traffic in the mobile network.
Google also changed its algorithm in April, so now ‘mobile friendly’ sites are ranked higher on search results, while those that fail to meet its criteria are ranked lower.
Although the internet is only slowing by a matter of seconds, it’s still slowing down. All the more reason for a user to become frustrated with a page that’s taking a couple extra seconds to load and go to a competitor’s site.
Written by Millie Dent of Fiscal Times
(Source: The Fiscal Times)