This is the first article in my series on low bandwidth development.
One of the key things that I’m always keeping in mind when I’ve web makin’ is how in the heck to make a website load faster. It’s often the case that a lot of sites built in Europe or the US often ignore this component. While broadband in these areas is to the point of nearly being ubiquitous (even my mom out in the countryside can get it now), it’s still a good idea to not go nuts and have a big fat pile of files and bytes for someone to pull down in order to see the site. This detracts from the user experience, even on fast connections because everything takes time to load, even if fast. A site that is less snappy is a site that is less user friendly and one that the user will bore of. Google get this with their sparse, yet highly functional interface. Yahoo! gets it decently well with their more full-featured, yet still rather lightweight interface. Facebook could obviously care less, which is why I’m assuming friends in African don’t use it all that much. Or maybe they just don’t like me anymore…
The other day I read in Aid Worker Daily (a new favorite of mine) about The Loband option. Loband is a nifty site that strips out all the images and the “what-what” to give you a very sparse, yet fully-informative website. All the content is there, just without most everything else. Sure, it’s kind of ugly, but if you’re on VSAT in Sub-Saharan Africa, it’s a lot better than waiting a couple of minutes for each page load.
But all of this is from the group at Aptivate who I’ve just now become a big fan of. They’re common sense web and IT folks, which are a group of folks I love as I tend to work in the same way. Being spoiled by resources makes for bad work. Having boundaries like slow machines and internet makes for much better work as you have to think and solve things within your boundaries. That being said, anyone who doesn’t know of their web design guidelines should probably shut off their Photoshop and stop building sites. Some of it is extreme for conditions where your internet connection is just slightly faster than a slug, but even when you are sitting atop “fat pipes”, these guidelines should be heeded. Yeah, I know that they might seem like common sense, but they are oh so often ignored in favor of using whatever slippy doo dah hoo hoo that’s the latest thing in Web #.0 which the marketing folks might be crazy about at a particular moment.
Developing and Deploying in Low Bandwidth Part 1