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Chapter 3. HTML Optimization > Increasing Complexity=Higher Bandwidth Designs

Increasing Complexity=Higher Bandwidth Designs

As the web and HTML have rapidly evolved, sites have grown fatter and more complex. With each new version, HTML added new tags and attributes to accommodate new features.[2] As new features are used, file size and complexity invariably increase. Flash, DHTML, Java, audio, and video have become de rigueur for higher-profile sites. Complex 2D and 3D animations vie for our attention. Simple text navigation bars have been replaced by complex multi-image JavaScript-powered extravaganzas.

[2] W3C, “HyperText Markup Language Home Page” [online], (Cambridge, MA: World Wide Web Consortium (W3C),1995), available from the Internet at http://www.w3.org/MarkUp/.

Web Page Size Inflation

The average size and complexity of web pages has increased dramatically since the early days of the web.[3],[4] In a brief survey using the Wayback Machine (http://www.archive.org), I found that the average “base page,” or HTML page size, for five of the busiest sites had increased from 8,297 to 28,290 bytes between 1996 and late 2002. During that time, the bandwidth of most home users increased from around 28.8Kbps to 56.6Kbps.

For example, since 1996, Yahoo.com's home page HTML has increased from 5,998 to 30,887 bytes, over a five-fold increase in HTML page size.

[3] Andrew King, “A Brief Homepage Survey” [online], (Ann Arbor, MI: Web Site Optimization, LLC, 2002), available from the Internet at http://www.WebSiteOptimization.com. A survey of five of the busiest sites on the web (AOL.com, Disney.com, Lycos.com, Microsoft.com, and Yahoo.com) found that total page size has increased from 40,223 bytes to 86,995 bytes from Oct. 1996 to Sep. 2002.

[4] Patrick Mills and Chris Loosley, “A Performance Analysis of 40 e-Business Web Sites,” CMG Journal of Computer Resource Management, no. 102 (Spring 2001): 28-33, available from the Internet at http://www.keynote.com/solutions/assets/applets/Performance_Analysis_of_40_e-Business_Web_Sites.pdf. In January 2002, this study showed that the average “base page” size (HTML) of the top 40 e-business web sites was 28,537 bytes, with a content size of 44,191 and a total size averaging 72,802 bytes composed of 21 objects.



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