The Publishing Project

Is performance all that matters?

One thing that has struck me over the last few years is our obsession with fast. The faster, the better, right?

I’ve become interested in how do we define fast and whether performance is the only thing that matters?

Sarah Drasner wrote this Tweet:

The article reminds us that we’ve become so focused on delivering the best performance possible at the cost of the little whimsical things that make the web fun and that will make users come back to our sites.

One of the sites referenced in Sarah’s Twitter thread is Cassandra Evans (cassie.codes). It took me a while to figure out what the cool things it did.

One of the effects is a small animation of the name on the top left of the screen. It took some effort as Cassie describes in a blog post but the result is cute, unlikely to have an impact on the site’s Lighthouse scores, and it produces a fun effect for the site.

The other one is what happens when you enable dark mode for the site. What it does and how it changes the page are left for you to discover.

It is a hard sell for large commercial projects but, on the other hand, how do you quantify user happiness? How do you measure the little things that made them come back?

The challenge for developers is simple:

What if you don’t have the time? Of course, we all have to get things over the line. Perhaps a challenge: what small thing can you incorporate that someone might notice? Can you start with a single detail? I didn’t start with a poached egg in my breakfast, one day I made a goofy scrambled one. It went on from there. Can you challenge yourself to learn one small new technique? Can you outsource one graphic? Can you introduce a tiny easter egg? Say something just a little differently from the typical corporate lingo?

Sarah Drasner — In Defense of a Fussy Website