There are a few things that come to mind when you think of the Internet these days:
- slow websites,
- lack of data privacy; and:
- large, bulky assets (eg. images, stylesheets, et al).
When I redesigned this site about a month ago (doamatto/doamatto#206), I had two goals in mind: to make the site faster, and to test Plausible. Considering how I was moving from Next.js, which is essentially a more beginner-friendly version of React, to Zola, a static generator written in Rust, it wouldn't be hard to make the site much faster. People confuse the hydration, SSR, and other features you get with React to help performance as excuses to make bloated, big sites, when in reality, you should just do what needs to be done: nothing more, nothing less. This principle lets you make the best experience for all users: be it on a 3G connection in some countries or on a gigabit connection in others.
At the end of the day, however, most sites don't need analytics tools. They're a niche that only really makes sense for sites that sell a service or product
The data isn't useful on most sites#
I feel like a lot of people miss that point, however. Numerous sites have analytics tools that really don't need them. Services like Cloudflare Insights and Vercel Analytics give admiteddly extra information as well. Sites that need to sell things can benefit from these tools since it can let you better adjust your marketing. However, large blogger that it's important to keeping your audience engaged
Data shouldn't be the root of your site#
People who are just writing blog posts or making now pages don't need all this extra data. Being driven by purely numbers makes your hobbies feel like jobs: as if you have to increase the amount of views, or have to get more conversions. You shouldn't be driven by numbers for your hobby, you should be driven by your love for your hobby.
Focus on making a site for the genuine masses#
There are large portions of not only the United States (see both Comunity and Income), but also across the world1 with slow or no Internet. These slow connections make big sites feel like they take ages to load. This limits the amount of people with access to content either for entertainment or out of needs (eg. studying and learning).
A simple solution: stop supporting a bloated web#
Although I could say we could join my friend Daniel in peak minimalism (took 1.23s on a throttled connection to load the page), there is a much easier and simpler solution: to stop bloating the web as much. Even on my average Internet speeds (about 200Mbps down, 20Mbps up), some sites take a few seconds to load due to the sheer girth of them. Outside of removing analytics where it isn't needed, you can make your sites more accessible by:
- making them more accessible (I know, wild),
- minimising and/or dithering images,
- using one font or system fonts (as opposed to several fonts/weights),
- use modern standards and formats like WebP, brotli (gzip); and:
The Internet is a place where we've been given the freedom to do so much, but we should still be mindful about the limitations not of our hardware, but of others. When I test things like the tools I make or the sites I work on, I do so almost always on my Raspberry Pi with a throttled connection. 2 This allows me to know a « worst case-scenario » in my eyes, with it being a low-powered computer with a limited connection. Help push for more a more sustainable, accessible, and open Internet for both us, others, and those who come after us all.
1 : I didn't link directly to the the global statistics, as it processes a lot of data and eats up computer resources. For a direct link, you can head here, just know it'll take awhile for data to load.