At some point in the past several years, the millions of different possibilities of turning individual pixels into a website coalesced around a singularly recognizable and repeatable form: logo and menu, massive image, and page text distractingly split across columns or separated by even more images, subscription forms, or prompts to read more articles. The web has rapidly become a wholly unpleasant place to read. It isn’t the fault of any singular website, but a sort of collective failing to prioritize readers.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve become numb to the web’s noise. I know that I need to wait for every article I read to load fully before I click anywhere, lest anything move around as ads are pulled in through very slow scripts from ten different networks. I know that I need to wait a few seconds to cancel the autoplaying video at the top of the page, and a few more seconds to close the request for me to enter my email and receive spam. And I know that I’ll need to scroll down past that gigantic header image to read anything, especially on my phone, where that image probably cost me more to download than anything else on the page.
This blog post is a bit of a meta-reaction seeing as this is a response to Not Every Article Needs A Picture but it's pretty rare to see any blog or news source post an article without an image, and the ban lays squarely on the cult of the "hero" image. The Hero image was a late web 2.0 design, a celebration of bandwidth and the exploding opportunity in web design, and now is feeling trite, stale images and it's only exacerbated by the Medium.com, Kinjas and every news site imaginable.
Even the print guys fail this test, newspapers like NY Times do not even follow their own print standard and wedge photos into all their articles. As Wired famously wrote, "The Average Webpage Is Now the Size of the Original Doom" (ironically on a page surpasses the 2.3 MB mark at 3 MB* ), do we really need to tax users more? I feel bad cheating my favorite publishers out of ad-revenue, but even whitelisting sites has me running back to Ghostery as I watch my Mid 2015 MacBook slow down and go into leaf blower mode to simply surf the web. On my phone, I have 1blocker but find myself mostly using RSS to this day as its fast, quick and cuts through the unnecessary pictures. Admittedly, my blog index pages fail the Doom test but it's also loading 20 articles at time (this article viewed by itself is 103k), perhaps I may still yet sneak in another feature.*With Ghostery Enabled, Wired.com's article is a much more palatable 937K.
*With Ghostery Enabled, this article is 97k instead of 102k.