The average web page has grown 20% in just six months

The HTTPArchive celebrates its second birthday this month, and it seems fitting to check in and take a quick snapshot of a typical web page. Not surprisingly, pages are bigger. But surprisingly, pages are even bigger than I expected.

Here you can see the growth in average page size over just two years:

Web page growth: November 2010 to November 2012

When I checked last spring, the average page came in at 1042 KB, just over 1 MB. In other words, a typical web page carries a payload that’s 20% bigger than it was just six months ago.

Anecdotally, I’ve noticed an interesting trend over the past few years. At this time of year, pages suffer “holiday bloat” as site owners try to stuff in more images, Flash, and rich media, not to mention a fresh crop of third-party scripts for things like ads, analytics, and trackers. Not unlike us Westerners, pages get fatter throughout November and December, and then, interestingly, trim down a bit when they go on a crash diet in January. At the risk of pushing this analogy over the edge, I’ll add that, like all crash diets, the effects don’t last. Before long, pages start puffing up again.

Pages could hit 2 MB in early 2014

When I wrote about page bloat for GigaOM last May, I projected that, at the then-current rate of growth, the average page would hit 2 MB in 2015. Based on this new finding, we need to upgrade that prediction to early 2014:

Projected web page growth: November 2012 to May 2014

Page bloat in and of itself isn’t news. Page bloat of this magnitude is. This has obvious ramifications for desktop users, but mobile users will be much harder hit.

For more insight into the current state of web pages, I recommend you check out Andrew King’s recent post Average Number of Web Page Objects Breaks 100, as well as Catchpoint’s Holiday Shopping 2012 State of Web Performance.

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