The newer the tech, the slower the site

So far I’ve had two people feed back about the site redesign and it’s positive. One friend in the US noticed that the site ran slower for him than before, which is very astute of him: he’s absolutely right because it seems the newer the tech, the slower things go. Bit like banking.

I’ve had noticeably long waits on other sites, too, and it’s all the bloat that comes with it. The Bootstrap template calls up Javascript and other code which burdens the download with hundreds of kilobytes. And yet we choose to do this for the sake of cellphones: if it weren’t for those devices I’d be quite happy to do nice, lean HTML sites that look good on desktop browsers.

As many of us haven’t the time to learn every detail about responsive design or media queries (though I gave it a bash back in 2013 when I redid the Lucire web template), it’s quicker to base things off an open-source template and modify. I fall into that category now: the 2021 redesign for the Lucire website was the first time I didn’t use a template entirely of my making. It’s the same case here.

When I first began blogging as one of the authors of Beyond Branding in 2003, we used Blogger, which wrote to our server in HTML. The pages were stored with us and not Blogger. They were fairly lean and didn’t contain an awful lot of superfluous code. (Before then I had resisted blogging, seeing it as the way that less scrupulous publications that had no access to professional design were done. Indeed, those early Blogger templates were pretty terrible.)

My website was just that: my website, with no blog. And it was pretty lean, too, though quite well presented, in my opinion. There was more creativity back then as we had the monitor as our canvas, outside of the confines of the cellphone.

When it appeared that the Beyond Branding Blog was running out of steam, I set up a blog here to kick off 2006, also using Blogger’s FTP publishing. Those entries still exist and their monthly archives are linked on this page—probably something I need to do away with and hide as the right-hand column (if you’re browsing on the desktop) is getting far too long.

As the 2000s came to an end and de-Googling was the sensible thing to do (still waiting for the rest of the world to catch up on this one), I looked at Wordpress, which ran on PHP. I adapted the blog template, and back in 2009 it was pretty easy (relatively speaking). We still weren’t considering cellphones as a web-browsing medium. The code was bulkier than before but still fairly lean. Within five months, Blogger, now part of Google, ceased FTP publishing, preferring to save blogs on its own servers. That sounded dangerous to me: trusting a dodgy company (even then) with storing your hard work on the cloud? After the experience I had had with Google in 2009, written about in Techdirt, there was no way I would trust them to store my data.

Thanks to a comment from Jaklumen in March 2013, I can pinpoint when that template was facelifted. Looking at what’s on this server, I simply adapted the 2013 design’s code to the 2009 Wordpress template. In other words, the underlying technical code was essentially identical. You could say yesterday’s change was a long time coming; it was the first big change under the skin since this blog started.

However, with it comes a degree of conformity to suit the technology—the opposite to how I expect these things to work. I want technology to adapt to people, not the other way around. And as my US friend’s keen observation shows, that adaptation has led to larger and more time-consuming downloads, to accommodate cellphone users who now make up the majority of traffic. The technology I had long expected, which would reorganize websites on the cellphone end so that they would be readable, never materialized, although Bitstream had developed something like that in the days of the Palm Pilot. I don’t mean reader mode, though that does seem to be a good solution, though one has to activate that specially.

Just as with regular software, the industry decided that more powerful computers meant that they didn’t have to keep code well written and tight. Here they’ve eyed the faster download speeds, even if some of us learned web design in the days of dial-up and understand the wisdom of getting information to our users as quickly as possible. There’s bound to be a side-effect of greater electricity usage.

I’ll keep tweaking to improve the design and remove anything that might be superfluous to aid the download time.

You may also like

5 thoughts on “The newer the tech, the slower the site

  1. I’m not sure that I do like the fact that the post collapses after commenting. I might have another thought… are you trying to discourage back-to-back comments by readers? :)

  2. Take this with a grain of salt because I tried it and it didn’t work. But in theory, head into the PHP file for a single post (it might be called content-single.php) and see if these codes work:
    <?php previous_post_link('%link') ?>
    <?php next_post_link('%link') ?>

    No idea about the post collapse though! Might be a Wordpress thing?

  3. Yep, it is a wordpress thing – I just re-added it. HOW you do that may depend on your theme or theme builder, but your method is ultimately what you’re doing. But is it ‘%link’ or ‘%title’?

  4. Looks good on yours, I just had a glance. Mine is incorporated into another PHP call and I haven’t identified which one. But on Lucire, the calls are the ones I cited, with %link.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *