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24 ways to impress your friends

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Chatman R.

Performance has been a concern since broadband connections allowed us to serve larger and larger assets. Just because our connections CAN handle more HTTP requests doesn’t mean we should stuff them to the gills. I’ve found YSlow absolutely invaluable for trimming the network fat. It goes without saying to always, always compress and gzip your assets, minify your CSS, and concatenate and minify your JavaScript.

Principles like OOCSS and its natural expansion (SMACSS) have come along to keep our stylesheets lean and mean, which on a site that leverages a lot of CSS3, can be critical. Furthermore, we have Modernizr to aid with conditional loading of scripts only when we need them. ‘display: none’ should be used sparingly, if at all as that markup still adds page weight and it makes no sense to punish mobile visitors.

Think about whether you really need a library or framework before you use it, as even a small file size can be a death by a thousand cuts with enough of them. Again, if you don’t need it on every page, don’t load it on every page. If you do use a library, try to use native JavaScript as much as you can and limit dependencies. Dump your objects when they’re no longer in use to reclaim that memory.

Above all, I think responsive design encouraged us to really think about our content and embrace web design in its own medium rather than as an offshoot of print. It’s a sign that the web industry has matured beyond its print-inspired design roots to have its own idioms and conventions. And that’s what makes it so awesome. I’m happy to be a part of its growth.

That said, the mobile web networks aren’t as blazing fast as their broadband network siblings, and we should be planning for that from the onset. We’re not designing for 56k anymore, but performance shouldn’t suffer for our advancement. In print, it only has to work from a design perspective; in web it should work even better than it looks.