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Average Web Page Size Triples Since 2003 241

Andy King writes "Within the last five years, the size of the average web page has more than tripled, and the number of external objects has nearly doubled. While broadband users have experienced somewhat faster response times, narrowband users have been left behind." The article breaks down a number of changes besides just page size, including image types and video duration.
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Average Web Page Size Triples Since 2003

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  • Around 1/2 a megabyte. Yup. That big.

    (Front Page?)
    • by gnick ( 1211984 ) on Monday April 28, 2008 @09:43AM (#23223244) Homepage
      Internet access gets faster -> Web sites get bigger
      Hard drives get bigger -> Applications use more space
      Media storage increases -> Home videos get larger and quality improves
      CPUs get faster -> Windows programmers add "features" and chow down on cycles
      Fish bowls get larger -> Goldfish grow ...

      Some good, some bad, some ugly. But not shocking.
      • by jank1887 ( 815982 ) on Monday April 28, 2008 @10:52AM (#23224284)
        Home videos get larger and quality improves

        if by "quality improves" you mean resolution, I'll give you that one. But a quick glance of some of what litters youtube goes to show that 'quality' isn't going anywhere...

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Lumpy ( 12016 )
          Oh good god yes.

          Home movies have always sucked. And in HD they SUCK more. You see HD, even 1080i, requires you to pan slowly, limit zooming and other fast or shakey camera motions. now HD amplifies the careless shooting of the home video and makes people even more sick.

          Honestly as a videographer I wish they required classes before people buy a camcorder. Either that or make the camera shock the user if it is tilted or moved too fast or if zoom is used when record is pressed.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by LoudMusic ( 199347 ) *

            Honestly as a videographer I wish they required classes before people buy a camcorder. Either that or make the camera shock the user if it is tilted or moved too fast or if zoom is used when record is pressed.
            Why stop at cameras - people should be licensed to use any technology. Imagine a world where you had to be licensed to operate a computer. Maybe the internet wouldn't suck so much.
        • by Yvan256 ( 722131 )
          Oh, the quality is going somewhere alright...

          it's going down! /dotmatrix
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          a quick glance of some of what litters youtube. . .

          If I take my trash to the dump, do you call that littering?
        • I'm a big weather fan (storms and tornadoes and such), but I gave up on looking for interesting footage on YouTube because NO ONE IN THIS WORLD CAN HOLD A FRACKING CAMERA STILL FOR MORE THAN 1/10 OF A SECOND!

          There was one with a gorgeous storm on the horizon in the evening, and it was filled with almost constant lightning discharges, but the total hick tool manning the camera kept wobbling it and zooming in and out and in and out over and over again... The auto focus couldn't keep up with the constant zoomi
      • by DrLex ( 811382 )
        So to recapitulate, stuff gets bigger -> stuff it contains gets more inefficient. Net result is near-zero. Isn't technological advance wonderful?
      • by Idbar ( 1034346 )
        I think you missed that screen resolution also increases, so there is more space to waste.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Digi-John ( 692918 )
          Yes, over the past decade or so I've gone from 640x480 on a 15" screen to 800x600 on a different 15" screen to 1280x1024 on a 17" screen; now I use a 19" CRT at 1600x1200 and a 24" LCD at 1920x1400 and there STILL ISN'T ENOUGH SPACE. I guess I have an ever-growing need for higher resolutions and more screen space.
    • by jandrese ( 485 ) <> on Monday April 28, 2008 @09:49AM (#23223354) Homepage Journal
      IIRC, that's actually smaller than it was before the 2.0 makeover. Before that you have to look back a long way to find a thinner and lighter Slashdot. Probably back before the sidebar was added. Slashdot has always been a fairly heavy website unless you use the lite mode, but at least it has a lot of content so that's not such a bad thing.

      The biggest thing I'd argue is that advertisements have gotten heavier over the years, with static images giving way to animated images giving way to flash objects.
      • by afidel ( 530433 )
        I'd argue that the average flash object is probably smaller than the average animated GIF. Of course that's counterbalanced by the fact that you have to run the flash interpreter which bloats local ram usage. Oh and flashblock and image.animate_mode once take care of both from a distraction standpoint =)
      • I was quite startled on the weekend, when using my friend's laptop, to discover that Slashdot has ads.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I checked.
      Around 75KB, down to 17KB with gzip compression.
      Plus around 20KB in png/gifs.

      Not that big.
  • ... let's note how they've grown in screen size, too! I mean, back in the day, it used to be good enough to have a monitor that could display 640x480. Now, if you're using a 14" CRT, you're totally out of luck when viewing the intarwebs!

    Ahem... honestly, I agree that "narrowband users have been left behind," but so have those with smaller monitors, older operating systems, and the like. Sometimes upgrading the hardware/software is just a necessity at some point. If you can't, chances are there's a lib

    • right now with this post I am on a 12" 800x600 LCD laptop for work.

      with DSL slashdot isn't too bad, but some sites I don't even bother visiting. The bloat isn't so much bandwidth but processor requirements. remember when you could browse the web with a 25mhz 486. now if you don't have an 1 ghz Pentium you can barely load up most websites.
    • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Monday April 28, 2008 @09:56AM (#23223440) Journal
      Would it be better if we went back to having a high content/low content index page so the user could pick which one they wanted?

      Of course not. People shouldn't be specifiying the width for their columns in absolute terms in the first place. Use relative measures and let the browser decide where everything goes. At least that way your site degrades gracefully if the browser doesn't meet your expectations.

      Well written HTML + CSS should be completely device independent. It should be fully navigable on a 1600x1400 monitor, a 320x240 cell phone, or a line by line screen reader. And it should be completely transparent to the user. We have the technology, designers just need to use it.
      • by LordLucless ( 582312 ) on Monday April 28, 2008 @10:27AM (#23223924)
        No, not really. If you want a 600px header image, then no amount of CSS is going to make that fit nicely on a cell phone. You're going to have to create a different design for the mobile device. I agree that CSS should be used more often, and should be used to give browsers render hints rather than force a behaviour to a specific layout, but it's not a panacea.
        • Or HTML spec is upgraded so that we can specify image size in % as well as pixels similar to a table. Then you wouldn't need to worry about the image width on the screen. Of course, you would need to make sure the image elements are clear enough to scale easily.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by NightHwk1 ( 172799 )
          It will of course need a modified design, but it can still all be handled by CSS. Just change the background-image URL, or remove the background altogether and do it with text.
          • It will of course need a modified design, but it can still all be handled by CSS.

            Hiding 80 percent of your HTML with display: none in the mobile stylesheet still doesn't prevent the user from having to 1. wait for all the HTML to download and 2. possibly pay for download overages. What is the recommended way to send an HTML page without sidebars to low-throughput users, vs. an HTML page with sidebars to high-throughput users?

            Just change the background-image URL, or remove the background altogether and do it with text.

            That will be feasible once mobile web browsers approach passing Acid3. Until then, very few user agents fully support SVG and downloadable fonts, and marketing is

        • by Hatta ( 162192 )
          That's why you specify an ALT image tag. Or provide a low-res CSS style sheet. No it won't be as pretty, but it will be navigable. That's what I mean when I say a website should degrade gracefully.
  • by TripMaster Monkey ( 862126 ) on Monday April 28, 2008 @09:38AM (#23223168)
    How many web pages had embedded video as a matter of course in 2003?

    It seems to me that embedded video alone could account for at least half of this increase.
    • External objects doubling makes me think of ads. I see more and more ads on websites and more and more often - they're video. I feel sorry for anyone with dialup. I hope you've got a good adblocker... otherwise 75% of any webpage you download is just ads.
    • by Idbar ( 1034346 )
      You know, I haven't been into myspace recenlty, but if they still allow people to put and start several songs and videos at the same time, no wonder.

      We are relying on the fact that from 2003 (and before), people started to make webpages and upload tons of content, and some providers don't even limit the bandwidth they consume. That is, I can replicate tons of information, cause I think people will thank me for embedding 5 youtube videos, instead of people clicking on links to youtube. This concludes on:

  • Who would have thought it, now most people have always on, fast broadband internet web designers are less concerned about page size.

    I would like to see more stripped down text only pages ( like the BBC has ) on web pages but otherwise I'm perfectly happy with this and don't see any need to handicap web developers just because some luddities out in the sticks somewhere haven't got a faster connection yet.
    • The U.S. is big, and there's a lot of it where the local phone connection is as good as it gets.

      Low bandwidth, flexible pages using CSS are also good for people on mobile units w/ small screens.


      • Thats true but most companies designing web sites are aiming for the majority of people who do have modern connections. I can't see it should be all that hard to also provide text only versions but it's only sites which need to be accessible to almost everyone that do actually do this.
        • by afidel ( 530433 )
          Majority, yes, but it's just barely a supermajority. There's around 30% of web users in the US that are on non-broadband connections and I would argue that the number is actually growing as small wireless devices use grows and the number of people stuck on dialup is fairly static at this point.
  • by Centurix ( 249778 ) <centurix@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Monday April 28, 2008 @09:39AM (#23223192) Homepage
    It's not the size, it's what you do with it that counts.
    • You mean, like putting the ads OVER the content I went to the site for? Or trying to make the worst possible site that money can buy Dilbert like? As a user, I think the web was a more pleasant place at the time of HTML 3.0, but luckily, everyone else involved thinks I'm just here to bring them money and f*ck the shut up.
      • You mean, like putting the ads OVER the content I went to the site for?
        Look, it's simple. Either you cut your bandwidth bill in half by playing attention to each bit, or you pay for it by serving multimegabyte flash ads. Your choice.

        • I'm more of the former type, as I close the browser tab as soon as I feel agressed, and BTW, I now get my dayly Dilbert dose from Yahoo (and I understood I'm far from being the only visitor they lost). BTW, bandwich lost is not a problem to me, since being french and urban, I have 10Mb/s ADSL for 30E, it's just the feeling of being agressed, and the urge to prevent any further contact with the agressors.
        • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Monday April 28, 2008 @02:36PM (#23227826)
          I don't know what all you other guys are browsing. I never really found legit sites that rather taistful about their adds. I have seen less adds/webpage from 2003-2008 not more. I also don't freak out everytime I see an add either. Most people who make a living of add supported websites normally are not multi-millionares. They may make an average living with their site and adds are the primary revenue and these people work full time to keep the site up to date.

          Usually when sites go Add Crazy they do not last long because there is to much adds and prevents repeat visits, so they go away because they cannot make proper money from it.

          Also back in the early 2000's flash wasn't used for most of the adds but animated GIFs and Flash is much more efficent then animated GIFs. So you are actually saving bandwith.

          Think of the alternatives to adds. Having to Pay for directly out of own pocket for access to a web site. Web sites collecting information about you and selling them to spammers. Web sites that are a labor of love and will get updated every year if you are luckly and could go down any day.

          Like it or not Web Banner Adds are actually the best happy medium that we have come up with that keep most websites running. Some websites such as make their mony selling swag but that may not be as profitable for other sites.
  • I can do my banking quickly via DSL, but when visiting my Mom, who still uses dialup, it took about twenty minutes to load my bank's homepage.

  • by redelm ( 54142 ) on Monday April 28, 2008 @09:46AM (#23223294) Homepage
    Ok, so I'm a little retro. I've just [reluctantly] upgraded from lynx to link to get tables and table layout.

    Everything still runs pretty fast, certainly much faster than those few occasions when I need graphics or https: and run Firefox. The difference is noticable on all machines, and greatest (~2x) on the slower ones.

    Sometimes formatting gets messed up, but the main content is still in text and still very readable.

  • by benwiggy ( 1262536 ) on Monday April 28, 2008 @09:52AM (#23223392)
    So, we've gone from "work expands to fill the time/space available" to "Internet expands to fill the bandwidth available".

    Whatever next? Software expands to fill the hardware available....?

  • Yep, tell me about it. When I'm stuck somewhere away from the PC, I catch up on sites from my Nokia N95. 500kB web pages are getting much more normal now, which is costly, and slow for people on phones.
    I know Slashdot has a "Palm" edition, which is very low bandwidth, but it only gives you the stories, and top 5 comments. No posting, no nothing.
    Surely the great web-wizards at Slashdot can make something that checks for a "Nokia" or "Symbian" user agent, and handles appropriately?
  • I would be curious to know how many web sites actively use the gzip response to compress content. While this does put an extra load on both client and server, it does help save bandwidth. For static pages these could even be cached in compressed form on the server, to help reduce processor load.

    As for many pages there is a lot of junk in there that could be stripped out or put into separate documents. This includes CSS or Javascript that is being reused by multiple pages, since this would be downloaded once
    • the big thing is that static pages are slowly going away.

      it seems these days almost everything has some sort of DB connection for data

      on my webservers i've got mod-gzip active, I haven't checked to see how much it's being used, but you've made me interested
  • Avoid bloat (Score:3, Informative)

    by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Monday April 28, 2008 @10:08AM (#23223602) Homepage Journal
    NoScript [] is your friend. Avoid a lot of bloat (flash/javascript ads?), and adds some security
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by hansamurai ( 907719 )
      I agree that NoScript is great, but I don't think it's actually very useful for speeding up sites. I spend a lot of time reloading sites multiple times because I actually need to use their javascript for whatever (usually stupid) reason. It becomes a guessing game sometimes which site to temporarily ok.

      Security wise though it's awesome.
  • The opposite of broadband is baseband [] in computerspeak. I've lamented the misuse of narrowband in this context for years, and now even the geek sites are getting it wrong. Ever heard of 100 base T?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      People think 'broadband' means 'fast'. Actually broadband can ~= faster. Broadband just means that there a particular signaling path has broader range of frequencies (more bandwidth) than some other signaling path. 768Kbps ADSL is broadband compared with a 56Kpbs modem, but is not broadband compared against a fiber optic connection.

      In a more technical sense in telecommunications, though broadband is divided into into channels, where baseband just has one signal over the maximum of the bandwidth of the med
  • Seriously - have you ever stumbled on a long-running blog that is 1 page long? Ever article the author ever wrote is stacked one after another, complete with more than hundred images. It can take minutes to load the entire page.

    I don't know if the blog software is to blame, the clueless blogger, or if it was intentional in order to have the most pointers from Google. If I end up at one I immediately back out -- I don't need to hear the opinion of anyone that maintains a site like that.

    The multi-meg
    • Ugh, I'd agree, they drive me insane. Finding anything on those pages drives you crazy. If they haven't properly written the links then actually clicking on them causes you to reload the page. FANTASTIC. It's even better when they post an image along with every blog post...

      It seems like the opposite is happening a lot too. Where ridiculously ad-intensive sites are breaking up what would take just a little scrolling to show into 6 pages. This is equally annoying. You have to hunt for the "next page" link
  • I'm on broadband (only 2Mbps, but that's fast enough for most downloads and should be plenty quick enough for most browsing) and I've noticed larger download sizes as well. In 95%+ of cases I've not noticed any particular use for the extra bloat other than "we couldn't be bothered doing it properly" or "well, people have broadband".

    Excluding places like YouTube where it revolves around big content, and ignoring bloggers who don't have the sense to link to external pages for their videos and so embed a dozen
  • Narrowband? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by XorNand ( 517466 ) * on Monday April 28, 2008 @10:13AM (#23223686)
    Ugh, I hate it when people describe dial-up as "narrowband" in an attempt to sound more technical. The term "broadband" is used to describe the signal encoding, not bandwidth. Therefore the converse of "broadband is "baseband," not narrowband. The opposite of narrowband is "wideband", and refers to something else. Um, k? Glad we have that all cleared up.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Nope. The opposite of "baseband" is "modulated".

      Broadband is mostly a marketing term meaning "high throughput." The technical origin of the term broadband is the width of the frequency bands which are used in broadband technologies. It is such a fuzzy term that it is advisable to use more precise terminology if you want to convey anything but the marketing meaning.

      POTS modems are generally not baseband devices (hence the name MOulator-DEModulator,) except when they perform quasi-digital transmission on the
    • Most people understand the terms "broadband" and "narrowband" to be relative to the specific medium. Sure there is technical definitions to the terms, but most people understand the casual definitions in context. Language is dynamic, don't get upset about it.

      Besides it's understood that "narrowband" refers to dial-up, but it can also mean cellphone connections like Edge or ISDN lines. Thus encompassing the lower bit rate connections. Sure it's an informal use, but at least people are making a simple

    • by Hatta ( 162192 )
      That begs the question [], is the English language prescriptive or descriptive? I mean if the term "narrowband" is used more often to mean low bandwidth, doesn't that suggest that the definition of the term has evolved?
  • Sounds about right to me. I still spend a lot of my time on a dual-1.25 GHz G4 with OS X 10.3.9 and Safari 1.3 and surfing is often painful on this machine. On a whim I saved the front page of, looked at the source, and downloaded every referenced .js file I saw. (I think there were about 10.) It wound up being a total of ONE-THIRD of a megabyte of code. So all that code has to be executed, on top of all the HTML, CSS, and images. No wonder it takes forever and makes the browser unresponsive. Yes,
  • by iminplaya ( 723125 ) on Monday April 28, 2008 @10:38AM (#23224094) Journal
    Advertising on the web has tripled over the last five years? It's most definitely what's clogging the, tubes.
  • I mean, I can look at file sizes on my server and see that if I add all the graphics and html and css up into a single number then my front page averages 100-120K (which is mostly taken up by my webcomic, and the css file is only counted once for the entire site so even though it's much larger than I'd prefer -- nearly 20K -- it's much better than it could be) but that doesn't factor in banner ads, or any of the extra files Drupal includes that I can't immediately keep track of, or any other factors that I
    • by Hatta ( 162192 )
      Use wget with the -p option:

      This option causes Wget to download all the files that are neces-
      sary to properly display a given HTML page. This includes such
      things as inlined images, sounds, and referenc

  • So after a quick google I found a site called that let me plug in my url and it measured my site size. It was rather depressing.

    Total size of the home page: 384617 bytes

    6550 bytes html
    311512 bytes images
    2696 bytes css images
    (314208 bytes total images)
    36366 bytes javascript
    27493 bytes css files

    I... honestly didn't think it was going to be that bad. It would take about a minute and a half for someone using a 56K modem to view my front page...

    about 130000 bytes would be removed if I dro
    • How stupid is it that my google search returned me to the site where I read the original article... AND I DIDN'T NOTICE?

      Honestly. I looked at the article, which was on, and then I found the site analyzer via google, which was on, and all I could think of at the time was "huh. They used the same css template."

      I read the article... I didn't pay attention to the URL. :P
  • I think you mean baseband. O, what ever happened to networking essentials?

    Narrowband is the opposite of wideband, meaning a signal that spans many frequencies.

    The opposite of broadband, in this case, is baseband.
  • narrowband users have been left behind
    They're also ugly and their mother's dress them funny.
  • I started learning HTML in 1996 and I miss some of the old days of web design. When you have to keep in mind that people are using 56K (or less!) baud modems you have to do more with less code or they wouldn't come back. Tighter code doesn't always make a prettier page, but it does make a better coder. Now people slap up all the obnoxious crap they want because they expect the user to have DSL/cable hookups. It hasn't been an improvement.

    I finally had to hook my mom up to broadband--it wasn't just for spe

  • by sirgoran ( 221190 ) on Monday April 28, 2008 @01:50PM (#23227176) Homepage Journal
    Is that with the advent of the WYSIWYG, every Charlie dipstick that can figure out how to use one thinks He's/She's a web developer. It doesn't surprise me that page size has doubled. The average WYSIWYG writes crappy code, and if you don't know how to write it yourself the page stays bloated.

    It has however, benefited my pocket since many of the businesses who have had a site built by these morons come looking for someone to "make their sites work better." It does still amaze me that even in this day and age your average business still doesn't check the credentials or abilities of the people that they hire as programmers.


Order and simplification are the first steps toward mastery of a subject -- the actual enemy is the unknown. -- Thomas Mann