Learning material for professionals eager to explore the science behind building a successful online product

#ASKTHEINDUSTRY 01: Why is Web Performance such a hot topic right now?

Well, in a way it has always been. It all comes down to the Web Platform becoming faster, more capable, and more engaging every month. As a consequence people started developing so much powerful apps (and sites) that the Web quickly became a slow and bloated-with-features sea to navigate.

The bad news is, in the last couple of years, developers and PMs have been tricked by a fundamental bias: we all test and develop on much more powerful machines, and much faster networks, than the ones that are actually available to the majority of our users.

It may seem a bit naive in hindsight, but that’s the reality of Web Development right now; and I can assure you this: if you can’t see the problem, you rarely solve it.

If you can’t see the problem, you rarely solve it.

Luckily, a lot of big names in the industry have started advertising this problem. Facebook, for one, has promoted a day when every employer is expected to be browsing the Web on a 2G connection. I don’t know if this is still a thing, but it speak volumes. Slow connectivity, however, is not the only factor we often forget of: mobile phones being so underpowered is the big one. Just think about it, when it comes to “developing for mobile”, one can too easily fall in the trap of testing the product on his or her own device (which, developers being geeks, is probably going to be an high end phone).

But what about all those low-end devices people actually use? Those exist, and are much more popular than the average PM or developer is ready to admit. What’s wrong with this you ask? Basically, we end up with countless products that aren’t resilient enough to perform well on the real-world devices they get used on.

We end up with countless products that aren’t resilient enough.

Indeed, aside from a couple of iPhones, mobile phones tend to have a much harder time digesting big fat JavaScript bundles than laptops. We’re talking full seconds (plural) of additional time just to boot up an app.

Parse times for a 1MB bundle of JavaScript across desktop & mobile devices of differing classes. Source:

If you ask me, it’s the collective growing awareness that these limitations exist the reason why Web Performance has become such a hot topic in the past two years or so.

This pieces is part of the #ASKTHEINDUSTRY project, a series of daily conversations with the Web Dev industry. You ask, I’ll answer, or find someone who can.

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