Speed Wins

May 16, 2015

When I first heard of Facebook’s Instant Articles launch this past week, I had some concerns. I wanted to write out some of them but Tim Kadlec beat me to it, so I suggest you read his article, Choosing Performance. I agree with everything Tim writes, but I want to expound upon it a bit.

I have no doubts that Facebook’s Instant Articles work. They have an incredible number of incredible individuals working for them. I know the technology works because I know that speed works. This is an area of development that I have become more and more interested in and concerned about over the past year. Speed wins, every time, and I don’t know if it’s genius or dastardly that Facebook is positioning this new feature about speed. I mean, they named it Instant Articles, so that’s their main pitch.

Performance is not a new topic but it seems only recently to have become mainstream over the past year or two. Because of the work of those like Tim, others are starting to become more aware and knowledgeable in performance for the web. I find it worrisome that publishers are willing to fork over their content just so their content will load faster.

I’ll echo Tim’s thoughts that the web is slow, but that it is not inherently slow. We can make it fast, but it must be a focus. We must invest. Organizations, large and small, must care about it or their sites and their content will never be fast. It’s a lot like simplicity. It’s easier to be complex than it is to be simple. You have to work at being simple. You have to work at being fast.

What I find most interesting in all this, yet, is that each of these 9 organizations all have responsive sites. Meaning that each of them, at some point over the last 5 years or so, spent a considerable amount of time, money, and thought into a rebuild. Into changing their existing online properties into ones that would work on all devices. They saw the web was going responsive and they acted.

I find it odd they would now raise the white flag. To believe a mobile web is achievable but a fast web is not. What was the point of making them responsive in the first place?

It concerns me that we’ll see this become a trend. That Facebook has convinced some, and still convince others, that the open web will never be able to compete on speed. And that’s not true. The web is just as fast.