90% of my Homepage was Useless

6 December 2023 4 Minutes History

In a few days, I reduced the size of my homepage to 10% of what it had been, and sped it up by 50-66%.


One week ago, my homepage was around 550k uncompressed and took about as many ms to load. I thought this was light, though I'd have liked it to be faster - I just attributed this to a side-effect of hosting with GitHub pages.

This weekend I discovered the 512kb Club which ranks websites by how big they are, the catch being that you need to be below 512k uncompressed. I looked at some of the sites on the high end of that list, and I felt pretty disappointed. There were sites that had much more content, some with many large images, while staying below 512k. I have an SVG and a bunch of black-and-white text.

Well, I made some small optimizations and got it below the threshold, but then I caught the bug and presto changeo before I knew it I had eliminated 90% of my website and it is pixel-perfect to how it was before. I'm now at 62.8k, a member of the "green team" on the 512kb Club site, and equally important I reduced the load time of the site (by any time metric you like) by around 50% just with the size optimizations.

Check Your Fonts #

The single most impactful thing I did was I checked my fonts. I use Google WebFonts, and their API gives you a few opportunities for improvement. First, make sure you're not loading any fonts you're not using.

Then eliminate any weights you're not using. I use Rubik for my text, and the homepage only uses weights 300 and 500, but I had been loading everything from 100 to 900:

<link href="https://fonts.googleapis.com/css2?family=Rubik:wght@100;200;300;400;500;600;700;800;900&display=swap" rel="stylesheet">
<link href="https://fonts.googleapis.com/css2?family=Rubik:wght@300;500&display=swap" rel="stylesheet">

I use Montserrat for my name at the top and nothing else, and Google provides an API for you to specify the exact text you need to load in a font. This took Montserrat from 30k to 2k or so:

<link href="https://fonts.googleapis.com/css2?family=Montserrat:wght@100;200;300;400;500;600;700;800;900&display=swap" rel="stylesheet">
<link href="https://fonts.googleapis.com/css2?family=Montserrat:wght@700&display=swap&text=IAN%20WOLD" rel="stylesheet">

Optimize Your SVGs #

SVGOMG is a great tool for this. The SVG at the top of my page was 64k, now it's about 8k. That's huge!

I had also previously been using Feather Icon's JS client to swap out i tags for their icon SVGs. However, by directly embedding the SVGs (which is easy and maintainable because they've got a great site) I was able to eliminate 30k and several ms from my page load time.

Torchlight is Pretty Cool #

I had been using Highlight.js for syntax highlighting, and it was easy enough to set up (I highly recommend it if you need to get up and going fast) but I wasn't too much a fan of the highlighting for my cases, and it was putting a 30k dependency on my site. Yes, I was able to take it off my homepage - no code there - but I figured I could also help my post pages out.

Torchlight is absolutely awesome. They run a server with the same language servers that VSCode uses with an API that will perform syntax highlighting for your snippets. Best part is they've got a Node package that you can run on a local directory to detect any <pre><code></code></pre> blocks in your HTML, post the code to their server, and swap out your code blocks with their highlighted blocks. It's free for non-revenue-generating sites, works like charm in the build step, and generates the best syntax highlighting with the most features.

Maybe Minify Your Pages #

I only saved a few kb doing this. What's most important I think is to consider bundling assets that can be bundled to save on the chore of loading them from a server. If your files are sufficiently small (as they tend to be on a statically-generated site) you're not going to save too much by minifying. However, if it's easy to add, then go for it.

Next Optimizations #

  • SEO
  • Accessibility
  • Performance
  • The SVG at the top of the page still doesn't turn white in dark mode

Hi, I'm Ian

I'm a software engineer, architect, and team leader in Minneapolis. My career has largely focused on .NET and web technologies, spread across several industries. Currently I'm working for Crate & Barrel on their ecommerce solutions. You can find me on this blog, contributing to open source repositories, and at conferences around the Midwest.

If you'd like to keep up with me, please subscribe to my book club or RSS feed. If you'd like to help me out with server costs, I would be forever grateful if you bought me a coffee!

Some other posts you might be interested in: