The Numbers Behind HigherEd RWD

Yesterday Luke Wroblewski asked the interwebs about the average size of a RWD site. While I obviously can’t speak to the wider range of RWD sites, I do happen to maintain a list of HigherEd RWD sites. The numbers that I track are by no means the whole story when it comes to performance, but I find them interesting.

HigherEd RWD Sites: 54


I tested with a browser width of ~1200px. Load time is based on a combination of tests from SW Michigan and Northern Indiana. Distance to hosts could definitely be a factor.

  • Load Time: 3.501 seconds
  • Requests: 59.08
  • Size: 1.543 MB
  • CSS Files: 6.19
  • CSS Size: 94.12 kb
  • JS Files: 11.49
  • JS Size: 181.38 kb

Small Screen

These numbers were gathered using a desktop browser at a narrow width (~320px) and an iPhone 5 UA string to attempt a simulation of a mobile device. For this reason, “load time” should be taken with an extremely large grain of salt.

  • Load time: 3.092 seconds
  • Requests: 54.96
  • Size: 1.206 MB
  • CSS Files: 6.71
  • CSS Size: 97.19 kb
  • JS Files: 12.38
  • JS Size: 215.39 kb

Mobile Sites

Out of curiosity, I tried to find “mobile” sites for each of the 54 RWD sites in the directory, of which I found 23, to compare numbers. The focus here was on size, not load time.

  • Load Time: 2.05 seconds
  • Size: 180.16 kb

Last fall I gave a presentation at HighEdWeb where I challenged attendees to work toward getting the “mobile” view of their RWD sites below 500 kb (totally arbitrary number that I use as my max for I’m happy to say I’ve received comments from some of the attendees that they have decreased the size of their sites, and I know of others that are working to that end. I would love to see the average small screen size for this list drop below 1 MB (500 kb would be even better). There has been a lot of chatter over the past couple of days about “Performance as Design” and “Setting Performance Budgets” which is fantastic. It’s something we all need to keep in mind.