From the beginning to the end of 2017, the average desktop page load time for FANDOM wikis decreased by 46%, thanks to all of the modernization development over the last year. That was only the tip of the iceberg, though, and our team has been hard at work on some significant performance improvements on the mobile site. We've already seen a great deal of success, knocking several seconds off of the loading times for users on mobile data connections.
So how did we get there?
The Steps We've Taken
When measuring loading times, there are multiple factors to consider. These are the primary ones, for both mobile and desktop.
- First Meaningful Paint. This is the moment when major page elements above "the fold" (defined as the immediately visible parts of the page) are loaded.
- Time to Interactive. The point when you can start interacting with the page and consuming the content which is what you arrived there to do.
To achieve improvements across those two areas, we've been working on a wide variety of improvements. Some of these are already live:
- We've extensively re-architectured the mobile layout by removing code that's not actively used. For example, the CSS and JS files have been significantly reduced in size, allowing for faster load times.
- We've reworked the order in which page assets load, making sure that the most useful stuff loads first.
- We've optimized a number of what are known as "dependencies," such as the connection to our image thumbnail provider. This means images load faster.
This resulted in meaningful improvements for everyone. Below, you can see a page load comparison between the new mobile loading experience and what we had even just at the beginning of 2018. The following video was recorded on a 3G network with a Moto G4 phone.
We've been looking at lots of different pages when testing these improvements, but the following is a pretty standard look at what this means for your mobile experience:
- First Meaningful Paint went from 2.8 seconds down to approximately 1.1 seconds, a 60% decline.
- Time to Interactive went from 7 seconds to approximately 3.4 seconds, a 51% decline.
And it's not just mobile wikis either! FANDOM editorial and Discussions are also now much faster on both mobile and desktop. Between this and our work on desktop in 2017, the entire site now loads significantly faster than it did just one year ago.
Benefits and Next Steps
Having a faster site comes with benefits beyond simply being a more pleasant experience for visitors. It means more people are spending more time reading your content. Our data shows that as page load times decrease, the amount of pages users view per session increases.
Of course, we're not finished — when are we ever? — so more improvements are planned. These include:
- We're working on faster loading for the first image on a page, simplifying the order that article elements load, and enabling faster movement between pages.
- We'll be looking at possible additional changes we can make to advertisements and ad loading times.
- We'll be studying how search engines crawl the site, looking for more opportunities to rank even higher in search results.
Alongside the efforts we made last year to modernize the wiki experience, plus improvements to loading times on Discussions and FANDOM editorial, mobile users now have much faster access to FANDOM's wide range of content. The work continues on Mobile Modernization, and we look forward to bringing you more updates in the future!
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