Designing for performance

- Posted in interface

In 2015 there were two talks that kept me thinking for a few days. They are “The website obesity crisis” by Maciej Ceglowski and “Delivering Responsibly” by Scott Jehl.

Both authors went to great lengths to make their talk available as a responsive web page. This is important because it underlines the points of their talks: content should be accessible. Performance is important.

I fully agree. If there is one thing that pisses me off it is poor web performance.

When I hear someone discuss that you can just “add a few web fonts to your site” my brain goes into overload and I kind of want to start a long discussion about why that is just a terrible idea.

There is a good reason why this website doesn’t load any web fonts: it’s much more important that the article you are reading actually loads on a 2G connection than that it is “pretty”. Furthermore, as my colleague Xavier pointed out, every modern OS comes with its own system font that is actually pretty great.

OSX and iOS have San Francisco, Windows has Segoe UI, Android has Roboto. Even Firefox OS (RIP!) has the wonderful Fira Sans.

So why bother loading a font that will a) cost you a licensing fee and b) will probably be inferior? The only sensible reason is a branding perspective, but what is the point of a brand that can’t be accessed?

P.S. Yes, I know, there are various optimization techniques you can use to load the font asynchronously, add it to localstorage etc, etc. I have researched all of this. The fact remains that few people take performance seriously, and most people will take the easiest way out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *