Optimizing static sites with hugo
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According to httparchive the average size of a web page in 2016 was around 2.5MB. Now this may not seem a lot in this age where the internet is the primary media delivery platform - but it is worth noting that most web pages serve text as their primary content. Looking at the report sheds light on what constitutes an average web page:
The portion I want to go after is
CSS - is used to add responsivity to a website. In my experience
jQuery is the biggest culprit of unnecessary bloat. But I digress.
- Increases the bandwidth cost for the user, and
- Increases loading times which make browsing experience clunky.
Above is network traffic for a page on this site that uses 3rd party JS libraries to render equations. Around 200/218kB of network traffic is for that one library. This may seem a trivial amount of data but I believe that any optimization is good optimization (in production especially). So I harnessed all the flexibility a static site can offer. When I now build my site, only pages that render equations or contain code request external libraries. Thus different pages on my site have different - but the leanest possible - network traffic signatures.
How did I do it? When building sites using Hugo, for each post I can define variables that Hugo can use while rendering a page template into HTML. These variables are called front matter in Hugo-speak. For example, front matter for this page looks like:
<head> section for the HTML template looks like this:
So now, only when I set
true does the page load
MathJax. Same with
Highlight.js. This speeds up my load times and frees up the generous CDNs from unnecessary traffic. All it took was a few lines. Win-Win.