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Chris Bongers
Chris Bongers

Posted on • Originally published at

Make the web fast again

As some of you loyal readers might know, I'm a big fan of optimizing the web.

As mentioned in the article, it's a never-ending battle.
And when I decided to switch my website from Eleventy to Astro, I knew this battle would start again.

While rebuilding my website, I took speed into account and optimized the HTML structure.

What's already done

With the redesign, I focussed on only using the bare minimum, meaning no useless divs, span, and classnames that wouldn't be used.

As well as using semantic HTML elements that help define the correct website structure.

Let's run a lighthouse test to see how it's performing as a baseline.

Note: It's essential to run the lighthouse test incognito as plugins and cache might affect it

First up is the mobile view.

Mobile lighthouse report for scoring 98 points

98 on performance and 100 on accessibility, best practices, and SEO.

You always have to take these scores with a grain of salt. 100 doesn't mean it's perfect. It's simply that your technical test succeeds.
You should always opt to do more tests and evaluate other criteria manually.

However, not a bad start!

We can see that we have three points of improvement:

  • Properly size images
  • Serve images in next-gen formats
  • Efficiently encode images

Before fixing these, let's run our test on the desktop variant.

Desktop lighthouse report for scoring 99 points

Here we even get 99 on performance and 100 on the other ones.
That's an excellent start.

We can see the same three points of improvement.

Analyse the issue

Everything has to do with the images on the website.
So what's wrong with them?

  • They are served in JPG format
  • They are server 1200x630 and only show 368x193
  • They still have some encoding on them

So what can we do to fix this?

We could change the format and serve a different format. However, we always need a fallback. I don't have the resources to host multiple variants of each image.

Then the sizing brings us back to the same issue. I can't host multiple sizes and render them back on demand.

I can, however, remove the encoding by using free software.
Some examples are Imgoptim or an online tool like: exif remover.

The solution

All of this screams to use of an image delivery service.
They can provide multiple formats on the fly and sizes and even remove the encoding.

There are numerous options, but I decided to go with Cloudflare images.

My main reason behind choosing Cloudflare is that I'm super happy with their page setup and wanted to see how easy the images tool is.

It's a super easy interface. You can drag and drop images, create multiple free transformations and choose what should be removed from the images.

Cloudflare images variants

That's pretty cool!
And to top it off, we don't need to specify the formats we want. Cloudflare can determine the best format for a user based on their request! 🀯

To start, I only focussed on the eight images on the homepage. I upload them to Cloudflare and make one variant to begin with.

This was the public size, and I set it to be two times the desktop size to support retina screens.

My images are shown in 368x193, so the size I convert to is 736x385.

The results

I then changed the image URLs to the Cloudflare ones and re-ran the tests.

The first test was on mobile again.

Mobile lighthouse test on scoring 99 points

Almost there! We improved the score by one point and only have one item left to work on:

  • Properly size images

Now let's test the desktop variant and see what happens:

Desktop lighthouse test for scoring 100 points

We did it, 100 points and no items left.

You might wonder, why is the mobile version not perfect?
And the answer is, you can even see it in the image above.

I render the images in square sizes on mobile, but we still serve them in the desktop size.
So to fix this, we need to add some more variants and switch them based on a media query.
More on that in the following article.

Thank you for reading, and let's connect!

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Discussion (4)

peerreynders profile image
peerreynders • Edited on

And when I decided to switch my website from Eleventy to Astro

Hypothetically with that transition you should be able to go full astro components.

And looking at the package.json it looks like that's exactly what you did.

Moving forward are you going to stick with full vanilla or is there already a contender for future client side functionality?

  • React - popular choice especially considering the nature of the blog being focused on "web development" but bit weighty for a server-side routed platform.
  • Preact - good React stand-in however isn't taken seriously by the React community at large. So might as well pick something else?
  • SolidJS - Top pick for JSX enthusiasts while also being performant (my personal favorite and I'm not partial to JSX).
  • Svelte - Not bad either given that it has a larger support base than SolidJS. But there still is time…
  • Vue - Not sure about this one. My concern is that it brings too much potential capability to the table that ultimately is of little value in this particular use case, making something much more light weight a more reasonable choice.

As well as using semantic HTML elements that help define the correct website structure.

With that you already kind of stick out. There isn't the prevalent focus on JavaScript that can be observed in most places (which is a good thing). Though given your earlier focus on vanilla CSS I was a bit surprised to see Tailwind (I know I'm showing my bias here) in there.

Though thinking about it could make perfect sense to use it now (in the prototyping sense) to discover your design system which can then be later solidified and dropped in place.

So what can we do to fix this?

I'm constantly surprised at the variation that exists just within JPEG itself. Playing around with squoosh can be a bit of an eye opener.

I can't host multiple sizes and render them back on demand.

Okay… otherwise we would be talking about the srcset attribute here.

but I decided to go with Cloudflare images.

Did you have already other reasons to be with Cloudflare though?

Cloudflare can determine the best format for a user based on their request!

Okay… the site is statically generated.

I imagine for that to work, requests have to go through Cloudflare (given that the browser needs the correct metadata on the <img> tag in order to plan layout correctly and efficiently). That would imply that there is something like a server side include (SSI)/edge-side include (ESI) going on.

I would expect that their infrastructure is super-optimized but TANSTAAFL. It would be interesting to see how a DIY static srcset solution would compare to this.

Anyway I like these "holistic" web development treatments rather than the predominant "duct tape a web app with items you can find in your own home" articles.

Keep em' coming.

dailydevtips1 profile image
Chris Bongers Author

Hi Peer,

First of all thanks for this massive comment, appreciate it.

I do leverage Astro components and actually want to move to zero JavaScript.
I really don't need much rendering for my website.

To adhear to that I even created a static Twitter embed on Astro 🀯

Well let's hope people keep dropping JavaScript when it's not really needed and native HTML/CSS can help us out πŸ’ͺ

As for the images, yep totally crazy what we can actually do.
And I went with srcset + picture as you can read about in this article

I was already using cloudflare pages and workers for my website, so Images was on the list to try out.
I'm really, really surprised by how good and fairly priced it is.

Glad you enjoyed this article πŸ₯³

peerreynders profile image

I even created a static Twitter embed on Astro

Oh, I'm aware.


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dailydevtips1 profile image
Chris Bongers Author

Oh nice!
I actually use it fully cached myself now 🀯