Modern, bloated websites are causing low-end devices to struggle

Mike Powers
Modern, bloated websites are causing low-end devices to struggle


A hot potato: Modern websites that are unoptimized and bloated don’t just mean slow loading times; they can completely fail to work on some lower-end devices. A recent report found that an entry-level phone, which was able to play PUBG at 40 fps, struggled with at several popular sites.

Danluu.com’s ‘How web bloat impacts users with slow devices’ highlights the problem of how CPU performance for web apps hasn’t scaled as quickly as bandwidth over the last few years, meaning more of the web is becoming inaccessible to people with low-end devices even if they have high-end connections.

To test website bloat, the report measured the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) time for several devices. LCP is the time duration between a user initiating a page load and the page rendering its primary content. Also shown is the amount of bandwidth demanded by each site.

The tests include the powerful Apple M3 Max, M3, and M1 Pro, as well as the low-end Intel P32 and Tecno S8C.

The most intensive site tested was Wix, loading 21MB of data for a single page. Patreon and Threads both loaded 13MB, while Twitter loaded 11MB and Discourse loaded 10MB.

As you can see in the results table, the more intensive – and some not-so-intensive – websites either took a long time to load on lower-end devices or failed to load. Tom’s Hardware notes the Tecno Spark S8C, a phone common in emerging markets, can run PUBG Mobile at 40 fps but can’t load Quora. Even the Apple M3 was slow to load Wix.

The report mentions how sites that use modern techniques like partially loading the page and then dynamically loading the rest of it, such as Discourse, Reddit, and Substack, tend to be less usable than the scores in the table indicate. It sounds good in theory, but in practice, sites that use dynamic loading tend to be complex enough that they are extremely janky on low-end devices.





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