Jay Holtslander


Posted Jun 6, 2019

How fast should a website be? How big should the webpage size be? These are questions anyone who cares about their website should be asking themselves regularly.

Let’s be frank. Like it or not, Google runs the web and their algorithms which decide how to rank a page are a website’s ultimate judge. So when someone from Google states an official view, in an offical post, it’s best to think of those statements as the the final say.

Recently Google Canada’s Billal Qureshi wrote a post on Mobile Performance and how the majority of Canadian websites can improve. The number one suggestion after actually benchmarking your website? Keep your page weight under 1,000 KB.

Last year, my team at Google did an audit of 100 of the biggest and most visited mobile sites in Canada. We saw the same issues come up again and again. - Billal Qureshi

“Page weight” refers to the total size of everything needed to load the web page and 1,000 KB is quite small. Let’s put this in context for those that may not be as fluent in web performance.

According to HTTP Archive a Wordpress website’s page weight is 2,200 KB. That’s more than double what Google would like to see your site be and that’s a bare bones, stock install with a default theme! Sure it’s possible to bring that size down with a well coded theme and good infrastrcture and maybe an AMP implementation but most Wordpress websites are FAR larger than that once their custom theme is activated and plugins installed. Reminder: Wordpress powers 1/3 of the web!

The average mobile site in Canada is 3,000 KB. Globally, 79% of pages are over 1MB, 53% are over 2MB, and 23% are over 4MB. - Billal Qureshi

No-one really cares that much about webpage speed

Think so huh? Tell that to the president of Google Customer Solutions who wrote:

…improving mobile speed is one of the most important decisions a business can make. - Mary Ellen Coe

Why would she say such a thing? Because Google ranks your website based on it’s speed on mobile devices!

43% of Canadian Internet Traffic is on mobile devices as of Jan 2019 - Statistica

How do I make my website fast?

There is no simple answer to this question and a detailed answer goes far beyond the intended breadth of this post. But what I can say is that Google themselves do not use a CMS like Wordpress. They’re beyond that. They’re using cutting edge technologies and tools that result in the lightest possible page weights and the fastest possible page loads.

What’s light and fast? Old fashioned static html. And what’s faster than static HTML? AMP HTML. But how can a static html site store the volumes of data a website may need without a CMS' database and still be accesible to non-coders? The answer is a “headless CMS”. A headless CMS can be plugged into a static site generator to spit out the smallest/fastest websites around and it’s the future. Learn more. I’ll be talking a lot more about Headless CMSs in the future and this website you’re on now will soon be converted to use one. So stay tuned.

I will say that one thing that makes me feel good right now is that currently Google’s AMP HTML home page has a page weight of 1.29 MB while this website’s is only 361 KB. (Yay me!)

Why the sudden urgency for web page speed?

There’s nothing sudden about it. The web has been pushing itself to get much faster for YEARS.

At Google we aim for under a half-second. - Maile Ohye, 2010

Check out this timeline on the pursuit of web speed improvements on The Quest For Speed to see for yourself the history here.