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Summary:

The average web page has grown from 726 KB a year ago to 965 KB now, according to the HTTP Archive. That growth could eventually help put a squeeze on mobile consumers who have to deal with increasing broadband caps.

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Mobile broadband caps might not be putting the hurt on most mobile subscribers yet, but data usage is going to keep creeping up. And that’s without people doing any more actual browsing.

The HTTP Archive charted the growth of the average web page and found that average web pages have grown from 726 KB a year ago to 965 KB now. The 33 percent jump is due in large part to more images and third-party scripts like ads and analytics. Javascript content, spurred on by the rise of HTML5, has grown over the last year by 44.7 percent, according to analysis by Royal Pingdom.

This, of course, is nothing new. The average web page has been growing in size year over year. Back in 1995, the average web page was 14.1 KB. But with the rise of new capped mobile broadband plans, it adds an additional wrinkle for mobile users who have to submit to these limits. Even if they don’t change their behavior, their data usage on mobile browsers will continue to expand with the size of web pages.

This is another good reminder that web sites should invest in mobile optimized sites. Not only do they appear better and load faster on mobile devices but they also have the potential to ease the data crunch on users by presenting a more streamlined page. A survey in June commissioned by Google and the Mobile Marketing Association found that only 33 percent of U.S. businesses have mobile optimized sites. Consumers are also increasingly showing their impatience with sites that don’t load well on mobile devices.

The growing size of web pages might also might push more consumers toward data compression options like Opera’s mobile browser, Skyfire’s browser and Onavo’s data crunching service. And it’s going to have to ultimately force carriers to reconsider where they want to set their data tiers. The existing plans may keep most of users under the caps for now. But with rising usage, not to mention the growing size of web pages, the average user’s data consumption will be shifting upward over time.

Image courtesy of Flickr user mking1783

  1. Thomas Vander Wal Wednesday, December 21, 2011

    I’m happy to see this. I have been running into similar when sitting in on RFP reviews for site redesign & engineering. I have been finding it odd that the very familiar corporate 3 to 4 paragraph, global and local navigation, and a few images standard pages that used to be 50kb to 80kb when hand built 4 years back are now over a 1MB. When looking at the markup and what is called into the pages there are often 2 to 4 JavaScript frameworks (not optimized), heavy external script calls for analytics and reporting, and incredible amount of CMS cruft that goes into every page regardless if it is used of not.

    At the same time I have been talking with designers, developers, and owners of small web shops who were asked to bid on redesigns of large corporate sites have moved into shifting large corporate websites out of their heavy CMS to much smaller, nimble, and forward looking options that also produce much better web experience for their customers visiting the sites (this includes much smaller and quicker loading web pages). Similarly I have heard from many organizations looking to hire web designers and developers to have internal teams who can move them off these systems.

    I’ve been curious the last 6 months how much of this is edge cases going down this path and how much this is a shift of better educated organizations putting focus on drastically improving web experience and moving away from expensive tools that can’t meet needs. But, the companies I have been hearing from and hearing about are often the organizations that have been early adopters on trends along these lines for many of the web trends that other later follow.

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  2. The interesting part is that increasing broadband connections speed will not dramatically increase the speed at which pages will load and render. The problem is with the expense of establishing tcp connections in the first place. Additionally all browsers limit the number of simultaneous connections that can be made. As highlighted by the table below.

    HTTP/1.1 HTTP/1.0
    IE 6,7 2 4
    IE 8 6 6
    Firefox 2 2 8
    Firefox 3 6 6
    Safari 3,4 4 4
    Chrome 1,2 6 ?
    Chrome 3 4 4
    Chrome 4+ 6 ?
    iPhone 2 4 ?
    iPhone 3 6 ?
    iPhone 4 4 ?
    Opera 9.63,10.00alpha 4 4
    Opera 10.51+ 8 ?

    http://www.stevesouders.com/blog/2008/03/20/roundup-on-parallel-connections/

    There are a number of ways that attempt to reduce tcp connections and both apply to the above. Firstly http keepalives are aimed to reduce the tcp connection overhead, additionally http pipelining aims to reduce the round trip time for http requests.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTTP_persistent_connection
    http://blog.amt.in/what-is-http-pipelining-why-is-it-important-f
    http://www.blaze.io/mobile/http-pipelining-big-in-mobile/

    The other aspect is that the analysis collected is not very descriptive of what it is based on. For example, of those sites, how many were correctly using etags and gzip compression?

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  3. saharadreamsmaroc Saturday, January 7, 2012

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