Our Web Obesity Epidemic

Dion Almaer
Jun 8, 2016 · 4 min read

We have a digital obesity epidemic that is mirroring the real-world obesity issue facing many of our civilizations around the world.

These things creep up, and a subtle misalignment in the balance of the force lets one side run away. In the case of our diets there are arguments over the cause: sugar? carbs in general? The science seems pretty clear that the “fat” boogey man was just that. It had a poor name and Ancel Keys happened to do too good of a job selling it as the enemy.

On the Web our page weights keep growing. With more pixels on our screens we use larger assets. With richer applications we throw down more JavaScript. Business threw in more JS SDKs to show more ads.

We looked at South Korea and their fiber lines, and kept eating away thinking that the network and desktop machines were such that our pants were stretchy and we would be AOK.

But then mobile happened and we found ourselves trying to squeeze into our wedding dress or tux from 10 years ago. Oops. It doesn’t work.

Now we find ourselves as a population looking to get back to a stable healthy midpoint. Now, we aren’t all in the same camp, and it is important to empathize with the fact that every person is on their own stage of the journey to their ideal weight, optimized for their health.

For those who are obese and are ready to make a change, they are looking for the right path. So many of us look for a quick fix when it comes to weight and a pill to save you.

AMP is a prescription drug and vitamin all in one. It does give you a quick path for certain use cases. You will have real constraints, but it can be a great choice to get going. Start taking the pill and you will have content that is bonafide fast. Chances are that you will want to add a richer experience for engagement, and that is where you will want to go beyond AMP. Fortunately, Alex Rusell laid out the connection on how to put AMP and PWA together.

If AMP is the pill, PWA is the path to a healthy web lifestyle.

Whether you take the pill or not, today is the day to start a healthy lifestyle, making sure that your entire experience is fast, safe, resilient, and engaging.

When someone is on this journey it is important to encourage and support them. This is another reason why we set a bar with PWA and Lighthouse, but we cheer on every step in the right direction. We cheer Flipkart for coming back to the Web, making a great experience that has fantastic business metrics, and they keep going by growing the reach. Was it ideal that the first version didn’t support iOS? Sure. But they came through and supported UC, then Safari, and we will soon see support added for Firefox and Edge.

If someone stops on the journey, that is the time that we need to step in and keep pushing them. If they finish up with a pwa.foo.com side that only works on mobile, we push them. But if they are still moving and progressing, we shouldn’t pre-judge.

That being said, if we see someone taking the wrong path, such as going all in on a low-fat diet that we know is a hoax, we should step in. We should do everything we can to educate people and help them make the right choices.

The best way to fight this is to start early. If we can get our youth on the right path from day one, they won’t have to go through the legacy pain to get back on track. To this end we need to setup the green field projects so they are fully responsive, on http2, and follow the best practices that we have to offer. There is still a lot of work to do here.

When a developer starts a new project, which diet do they choose? Which one is The Right One?

There will always be choices, which makes it more important to use data. We need to set the bar and hold choices accountable. If your framework choice ends up with something that passes lighthouses tests, GREAT! These diets and frameworks are a means to an end, not the end itself.

The measures that you choose are then very powerful and important. Is BMI the perfect metric? No. But it may be a nice general measurement for the masses, and for the individual you should go deeper. Once you get to a decent BMI you can then go deeper and get more measurements that tie to yourself. These will be very different depending on your goals. Are you looking to be good at a certain sport or lift heavy weights? Or are you a long distance runner? Are you looking to be a high engagement entertainment site, or a transactional market that wants to help users get in and out as fast as possible? Measure what is right for you.

We are in interesting times. I think we all acknowledge that we have a serious problem. Fortunately, we have the capabilities in the platform to be healthy, the masses just aren’t there yet.

As someone who has been on the literal health journey, and is still fighting that fight, I know that it isn’t easy…. but it is life and death. Let’s do this.

Ben and Dion

now: Google, formerly: Walmart Labs, Set Direction…

Ben and Dion

now: Google, formerly: Walmart Labs, Set Direction, Ajaxians, webOSians, Mozillans, and more.

Dion Almaer

Written by

Developers @ Shopify; Karaoke Ready

Ben and Dion

now: Google, formerly: Walmart Labs, Set Direction, Ajaxians, webOSians, Mozillans, and more.