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News Sites Not Optimised for Mobile, Trilibis Study Finds

David Murphy

[caption id="attachment_52717" align="alignleft" width="150"]The Trilibis study found that news websites are typically image-heavy, which affects load times on mobile The Trilibis study found that news websites are typically image-heavy, which affects load times on mobile[/caption]

A study published by Trilibis has found that the majority of top news websites performs poorly when viewed on a smartphone or tablet. In an analysis of 100 business, technology and entertainment news websites that employ responsive design, Trilibis found that only 26 per cent load in less than four seconds on a mobile device, and 27 per cent take more than eight seconds to load. The tests were conducted on a 4G network and, the company says, should be considered “best-case” scenarios.

The page weights of the responsive news media sites in the survey were predominantly high. 58 per cent served pages of which images constituted more than half of overall page weight; 5 per cent of the sample served home pages with page weight consisting of more than 90 per cent images.

2.74 per cent performed badly on mobile phones. Only 26 per cent provided acceptable page-load times. 47 per cent were bad (4 – 8 seconds to load). 27 per cent were very slow (8 – 35 seconds to load). On a more positive note, server-side image optimization delivered compelling performance gains on mobile devices. Average image weight was reduced by 79 per cent, while page-load times were reduced by as much as 48 per cent

Trilibis’s tests found that image size was the primary cause of sluggish performance. By analyzing the page composition of each website, Trilibis determined that the mean home page weight of the sites in the sample was 2.4MB, with a median weight of 1.6MB. For desktop computers with high-bandwidth connections and abundant local resources (disk, RAM), page weight is not a major concern – but, for mobile devices, the company notes, it certainly is.

While a number of factors can contribute to the overall weight of a web page, the size of images is typically one of the most important. This is particularly true for image-rich business and technology news websites. Trilibis examined the relationship between image weight and overall page weight of the 100 news websites in the sample, and found that images constituted more than 50 per cent of overall page weight for 58 per cent of the sample.

When it analyzed page-load times, Trilibis found this was acceptable (i.e. less than four seconds) for only 26 per cent of the sites surveyed. Page-load times were between 4-8 seconds for 47 per cent of the sample, and in excess of 8 seconds for 27 per cent.

The company also looked at whether image optimization could deliver a lower page weight without compromising user experience, and whether server-side processing could improve website performance on mobile devices. Before server-side optimization, the total image weight of all 64 responsive websites was 81MB. Trilibis’ device detection and image optimization technology reduced the page weight for every class of device: down to 43MB for desktop browsers, 18MB for tablets, and 17MB for smartphones.

“Page loading time is an important part of the user experience for every website, but especially for news sites and blogs,” said Ted Verani, SVP of sales and marketing at Trilibis. “If a page loads slowly on mobile phones, visitors will go elsewhere for their news. Additionally, page-load time on mobile is now a key factor in determining search engine rankings, and also has bearing on the advertising value of a news blog or website.”

The full survey is available for download here.

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