Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

Modernising the Modern Web

_DSC0792aGoogle announced earlier this week that they’re going to warn mobile users about incompatible web pages in their search results. In particular, websites that depend on Flash, which Adobe has discontinued its mobile development since 2012, will be discriminated against. Google wants to encourage website developers to modernise their web assets.

I’ve always been very supportive of adopting modern web standards. It’s actually the best and most sensible way to develop websites that work on modern devices. The web’s 25 year history is fraught wit many ill-defined standards and poor implementation of those standards. Things have begun to get cleaned up quite nicely, in part spurred by the need consistent and deterministic user experiences on the variety of platforms the web now serves.

Many website developers, however, are still stuck in old times and don’t want to move. It takes a big fella to move things along. That’s what Google is up to.

Just out of curiosity, I decided to check out some technical evaluation of a bunch of websites. I’m not talking about content, site design, appeal or popularity. Instead, I”m interested to see how well they embrace standards, technical best practices and website development guidelines.

Google PageSpeed Insights Pingdom Website Speed Test W3C Validator Flags
Mobile Speed Mobile User Exp Desktop Summary Perf Grade
www.ndp.org.sg 52 65 65 72 XHTML, Passed 6
www.gov.sg 57 89 92 90 HTML4, Passed 6, M
www.ida.gov.sg 47 96 56 88 HTML5, 87 errors 6, M
www.singtel.com 48 93 61 67 HTML5, 96 errors 6, M
www.dbs.com.sg 51 99 64 83 HTML5, 118 errors M
www.stomp.com.sg 24 64 30 82 XHTML, 203 errors
www.straitstimes.com 64 71 87 86 XHTML, 282 errors
channelnewsasia.com 71 99 66 81 XHTML, 229 errors M
www.techgoondu.com 55 95 0 (!) 86 XHTML, 80 errors M
justinlee.sg 46 94 56 72 HTML5, 17 errors M
zitseng.com 81 99 91 93 HTML5, Passed 6, M
www.google.com.sg 99 100 99 93 HTML5, 32 errors 6, M

The Google PageSpeed Insights and Pingdom scores above are out of 100 (i.e. 100 would be a perfect score). The flags column show the following attributes:

  • 6: IPv6 supported by website
  • M: Responsive mobile design

You see how few websites actually care to embrace and adopt modern standards. Surprisingly even Google’s own search page doesn’t properly validate for HTML5 compliance, although they do otherwise score very well in other tests.

The very least that any website should do is to pick a design that is friendly on mobile. I’m not saying one needs to design a website for mobile, or optimise a layout specifically for mobile, but just very simply have something that works on mobile. How many websites have you seen that are unusable on a mobile smartphone?

websites-0

My own website, zitseng.com, did not have a responsive mobile design until a few months ago. However, for the longest time before that, it had remained quite accessible on a smartphone even with its desktop layout design. In fact, I had delayed putting up a responsive mobile design simply because the desktop layout worked pretty well. I’m not a web designer by profession (nor hobby), but it does matter to me to keep up with the modern web.

Today, there are a couple of things that I’d strive for:

  • Use HTML5. I also do mean write fully compliant HTML5. There’s no point shooting for HTML5 when your HTML code just completely fails to validate as HTML5 complaint.
  • Use responsive design. Optimise for different device types. Small screens cannot show as much content, fingers don’t have as much fine resolution as do mouse pointers, etc.
  • Optimise delivery speed. Some slowdowns experienced by users can be avoided through improved web content delivery.
  • Host on IPv6. This is more about future-proofing your website than receiving any significant benefit right now.

Where are you with your website today?

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