Maciej Ceglowski gave a Web Directions talk recently at the end of the last year titled “The Website Obesity Crisis”. For anyone who designs for the web or, frankly, uses the web, this is an important read/watch. I do remember the days when making a website was an HTML document and maybe some images. Now, it’s something much more, and not for the better. The addition of CSS is helpful, but what about JavaScript? The death knell of Flash can, thankfully, be heard.

Ceglowski argues that text based websites are frequently congested with needless code, graphics, and animations. He gives good examples, such as:

If you open that tweet in a browser, you’ll see the page is 900 KB big.
That’s almost 100 KB more than the full text of The Master and Margarita, Bulgakov’s funny and enigmatic novel about the Devil visiting Moscow with his retinue (complete with a giant cat!) during the Great Purge of 1937, intercut with an odd vision of the life of Pontius Pilate, Jesus Christ, and the devoted but unreliable apostle Matthew.
For a single tweet.

I’m a fan of formats that don’t take up more space than they need to. Despite having what appears to be marginally better hardware and a more streamlined ecosystem, I prefer the Barnes & Noble’s Nook over Amazon’s Kindle for the primary reason that the Nook supports EPUB, while, last I checked, Kindle doesn’t. The Bible, King James Version as distributed by the good people at Project Gutenberg weighs in at 11 kilobytes while the same lengthy document is 63 kilobytes for the Kindle version.

These are not web forms, of course. Ceglowski speaks specifically of the web. Which he is completely correct on being that considering specifically text based web content, has grown needlessly large. Web browsers now frequently have a feature to strip out all of the nonsense on either side of a news article that has loaded up with what you’re looking for (See Safari’s Reader View). And that’s just the stuff that you can see, let alone all of the web code that is running out of sight.

He also talks about the cost of entry for someone who is getting started with web design. It used to be, you needed a text editor and a host to upload your files. Now? It’s harder. Much harder. If I tried to apply to a web design firm and didn’t have any Adobe CC experience on the résumé, I’d better have a pretty darn impressive portfolio to make up for it. And don’t even get me started on the back-end stuff.

If you’ve read this far, just watch the video link above, I’m just going over the same ground again.