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Bigger isn’t better when it comes to web pages, but the internet has continued to put on weight this year. According to the 2014 report from the HTTP Archive, the average size of a web page is up 15 percent this year to 1,935Kb — just shy of 2Mb (or 2,048 Kb) per page. This includes an average of 95 HTTP pull requests per page.
Part of the web bloat is from a rise in images and custom CSS on webpages. CSS sizes are up 24 percent while image sizes are up 21 percent. Flash on webpages is continuing a slow, expected march toward death and decreased 13 percent this year.
You shouldn’t be quick to blame the Retina iMacs (and their need for high-resolution images) for the extra image sizes though. As web analyst Craig Bucker shows, retina accounts for a small portion of devices. Instead the rise in responsive site design, sites that can be scaled from full screen to tablet to mobile, could lead to bulked up code. Bucker’s analysis points the figure at CMS templates and frameworks that come pre-loaded with a bunch of extra features and functions that sites don’t use, but that developers neglect to take out of the code.
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Web page bloat is nothing new bulking up is nothing new, and this year’s 15 percent increase is at a slower rate than the past two years. In 2013, it rose 32 percent — the previous year it had been up 30 percent in 2012. However, even though the growth rate has slowed, it’s still bad news as mobile usage is on the rise and more frontier markets come online. Larger pages mean slower download times and more data used on mobile. With data caps on most networks, pages that have a skinny load time may see a preference (and the traffic) from impatient mobile users.