London, United Kingdom

Performance and Behavior

I’m hoofing it around London today preparing some last minute things for my visa. The weather could not be more beautiful as puffy little clouds float above me in a cerulean blue playground.

But as I walk around I’m entirely reliant on this patchy 3G network from my American data plan and I’m certainly not used to having these sorts of limits. In fact it makes me wince each time I check my phone. At home in California it feels like I have an infinite amount of internet that’s constantly blasted in my face but the web here is so incredibly slow to the point that’s it’s almost unusable.

Through this lens of a patchy network I see this landscape differently.

These limits are changing my behavior in small but significant ways – I can’t look up tickets for shows, search for where my hotel room is, or use Twitter much. Maps feels like it’s running out of gas and, on the web, images and fonts refuse to load at all. These aren’t essential things of course but they’re enough to change my behavior.

Up to now I think most folks have talked about performance from the perspective of accessibility. That we must make our websites fast out of kindness. But I wonder how much is lost economically and culturally because of slow websites. Like say every website loaded in 500ms or less – what effect would that have on our economy and society?

How would our landscape change?