Jason: There is a lot of that, that can be done, and there are businesses that are amazing at that. Etsy does, in their annual reports, they now have a performance section, because performance is such a big part of what they do and such a competitive advantage that they’re reporting out on these things.
And trying to make improvements in performance all the time. I think that there are a bunch of businesses that are really, really smart about this stuff and are looking at it across the whole spectrum of what needs to be done.
That’s awesome. I’m glad that they’re doing that. That is not the stuff that I spend my time worrying about or talking to people about, because what I find over and over again is it’s the simple things that aren’t getting done.
What I’m looking at in responsive design is really about, “OK, well, what is the approach that you need to do to make responsive design performant? What are the five things that you really need to keep in mind? Where do you get the most bang for your buck?”
Generally, I think, even if we weren’t talking about responsive design, maybe if we were just talking about Web design in general. There’s just a handful of things. This isn’t something that’s responsive-design-specific.
It’s not something that we end up talking about in the workshop or anything, because it’s not responsive-design-specific. There’s this simple instruction for a server to turn on Gzip, which is a form of compression, and it is in Apache, which is the most popular Web server.
It’s three lines of configuration. It’s not even code. It’s just three lines saying, “Turn this thing on.” It’ll take text files and reduce the size of them 80 percent.
It’s brain-dead simple, right, but I’ll bump into sites all the time that don’t have that on, and then designers that don’t know that that’s a thing. They don’t even know how to check to see whether their back-end developers have done it.
The designer doesn’t have to know those three lines, right? All they have to know is, “Hey, this is something that I should look for,” and there are tools to check to see whether your page is doing this.
They need to know that it is really, really simple, so that they can’t get somebody telling them that it’s more difficult than it is. Just say, “Look, this needs to be turned on. It would make such a big difference for our users, and it would save us money because we don’t have to pay as much for bandwidth.” All this sort of stuff.
The things that I focus on are really at that level. They’re either things that designers should know, particularly when it comes to responsive design, how do you handle images, how do you do mobile-first responsive design, why is this important.
They’re not designed to be like, “OK, let’s go calculate things and let’s go figure out the nitty-gritty of performance.”
There’s something really satisfying about performance, because it’s the one bit of design that you do that you can actually measure results on, so it can get a little addictive. It’s like it’s got its own built-in gamification to it.
If people were to start thinking about it from a responsive-design perspective and then get excited about it and go do other things, that would be awesome.
That’s not what I focus on. I’m just like, “OK, you guys are going to do responsive design. Here’s how to do it well. Here’s, big-picture, what you have to keep in mind. Here are the challenges you’re going to bump into.
Here’s how you do it in a way that works well and is per-formant, and here’s why you should care about performance. Here’s why it’s actually something that, as a designer is actually, impacts your job and you have the power to change it.”
Sorry. That was a little rant. I just think that people get turned off of performance, for some reason that I don’t quite understand, when you don’t have to get into the nitty-gritty to just understand some big stuff that will make huge impacts.