Bad news for site owners and mobile users: The average web page is now 1 MB

I wrote about this at greater length in this post for GigaOM (which also includes some nifty graphs), but want to summarize a few of the key points here.

  • According to the HTTP Archive, which gathers stats on the top million sites in the world (as ranked by Alexa), the average web page has surpassed the 1 MB mark.
  • In the past 18 months, the average web page has grown by 50% — from 702 KB in November 2010 to 1042 KB on May 1, 2012. (Side note: Since I wrote the GigaOM piece, the HTTP Archive has refreshed with new data. The average page is now 1059 KB.)
  • At this rate, the average page will hit 2 MB by 2015.
  • Images and third-party scripts (i.e. analytics, ads, social sharing buttons) are the main culprits.

Mobile users take the hardest hit.

Consequences include being throttled by providers or being hit with massive roaming charges. (For example, earlier this month I bought 25 MB of data from my provider for $100 while travelling in Europe. This works out to $4 per page.)

There’s a head-in-the-sand tendency to assume that just because our devices, browsers, and networks are more powerful than ever, end-user performance must also be getting better.

To disprove this, here’s a graph I created, in which I overlaid two sets of numbers spanning the past 12 months. The red line represents the page size data from the HTTP Archive. The blue line represents the mobile load time index from Keynote. While the two lines represent different data sets, it’s pretty clear that the general trend is up — bigger and slower.

Correlation between web page size and mobile load time

As I’ve said many (many!) times, building a mobile-specific site isn’t the answer.

One-third of a site’s visitors will choose to visit the full site if given the option between the two. That’s because people want the same breadth and depth of content and a consistent user experience, no matter what device they use. Site owners who can deliver a fast, reliable, cross-platform user experience are going to be the ones who own the web of the not-so-distant future.

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48 thoughts on “Bad news for site owners and mobile users: The average web page is now 1 MB

  1. I guess it’s November 2011, isn’t it? Interesting data trends. That points we must focus to keep our sites light weight.

  2. Oops… November 2010, actually. Thanks for the heads up about the typo. :)

  3. But doesn’t this graph show that page weight and load time are not correlating…?

    Getting page waterfalls to fill available bandwidth is a rarely met dream for me. Isn’t it Round Trips that governs response time of resources not simply size?

  4. “One-third of a site’s visitors will choose to visit the full site if given the option between the two. ”

    My only gripe about this statement is; since a large proportion of the web is “built with wordpress”, then surely half of those site owners are smart enough to use plugins like wp-touch, that render the site mobile/touch compatible.

    There is an option when visiting those plugin-activated sites that lets the visitor to see the default / non-WP-Touch version.

    However, and this is just a personal thing; out of respect for the site owners, I never click the non-wp-touch version because of two things:

    - I know the site will render terribly on my hand-held device
    - I am afraid of running a huge bandwidth bill on my service provider

    HTTP Archive is a terrible metric because it’s only implemented on sites which decide to use it.

    The solution to this problem is to enforce webmasters / site owners to publicly release stats they have gathered over the years.

    You might say, well then use HTTP archive for that; but most webmasters would more happily release data collected over the years, as opposed to releasing data only recently gathered from services like HTTP archive.

    - David

  5. There are new highly advanced compression technologies available soon which will fix this problem. Mobile devices will become faster and more powerful and mobile data networks will have higher bandwidth. I don’t seem the problem.

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  8. I completely agree. Both the core/mobile website and standard website should both be based on the same content.

    This leads to switching from core to standard website effectively a process of changing the view and perhaps loading in a few extra resources.

    I’ve weaponised this as the responsive viewport, http://responsiveviewport.com

    Hoping it is adopted for the sake of improving the problem you illustrate.

    Thanks.

  9. I NEVER go over 1mb. Think 0.5mb is big as is, one is just not acceptable.

    I have seen a lot of sites that are great design wise, but they omit the details that make sites quick and loading times are non-existent.

    People forget that not everybody is on 10mbps connections.

  10. Over the past two years, I have also become very aware of the page size for sites that I visit or create.
    For my own sites, the page bloat started to increase when I began integrating jQuery and additional scripts within the sites. This is not to say that I am against jQuery, far from it, I love it, but it is something always to be considered when making a website.
    Am I right in seeing the size of jQuery compressed always increasing on each new version? Have I heard that the jQuery team are making a new cut down version only containing the most utilised aspects of the script?

  11. Unfortunately, it’s a trend i am seeing too. I’ve even see 10MB per page sizes lately EEK. Even on my 116Mbps download connection it took some time to load such pages.

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  16. I couldn’t disagree more with your final statement. You are assuming that users on mobile devices are of the same mindset as a desktop user. This is nearly never the case. You must consider where the user is and what they want. Are you saying that when I am in my car and am want a Jamba juice that 2/3 of the time I would rather scroll around on a full website than run a simple site that answers three questions: Where is the closest one, are they open and give me a damn coupon?
    If you have stats to support the 2/3 theory, I’d love to see it, but even then I’d suggest that the stats are based on the fact that 99% of companies have not done mobile right, not that people prefer to browse around on full sites on their phones.

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  40. I like the valuable info you provide in your articles.
    I’ll bookmark your blog and check again here regularly. I am quite certain I will learn many new stuff right here! Best of luck for the next!

  41. Hi,
    where can i find source of this information: “One-third of a site’s visitors will choose to visit the full site if given the option between the two.”

    Thanks.

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