Why I love the mobile web

This is why I’m a big fan of good mobile websites; the normal BBC Sport Formula 1 page loads in 6 seconds, where the mobile version loads in a mere 2 seconds (when over cable, DSL and 3G are off course slower). Same content, less clutter and based on progressive enhancement for ultimate responsiveness (from low-end phone on a mobile data network to a tablet on WiFi). Guess which site I use on all my devices (smartphone, netbook, the family tablet and my work laptop)?

The details, for both document complete and fully loaded (between round brackets) as seen from the Brussels webpagetest.org node using IE9 and the cable-bandwidth profile;

bbc sport desktop thumbnailbbc sport mobile
load time 6.011s (7.371s) 2.057s (3.243s)
download size 988 KB (1015 KB) 184 KB (657 KB)
requests 134 (141) 32 (65)
test report webpagetest.org result webpagetest.org result

Notice the big difference between document loaded and fully loaded on mobile; that’s where the progressive enhancement kicks in. If you visit the same mobile site with a small screen-size device or without JavaScript, page load time drops to 1.467s for just 76 KB.

An even more extreme example; the desktop news-site for the VRT (the non-commercial broadcaster here in the northern part of Belgium) loads in 10,598s (11,482s) for a whopping 4.337 KB (4.406 KB) (on cable, it gets way worse when on DSL-bandwidth!) while their (one site fits all) mobile site only needs 0,869s (1.475s) for 116KB (120KB). Guess which site I use?

The conclusion is simple; don’t assume that just adding some mediaqueries will make your dog-slow site truly mobile-ready. It’s 2013 and websites should be lean and mean, but most of them still remain way too fat for our smartphones.

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