Applying weight loss paradigms to web performance – the page weight points system

I like to compare web performance and page weight challenges to real world scenarios. I continue to enjoy John Allspaw and Steve Souders’ performance about a stronger and faster web  at the Velocity Conference 2012. Those things stick, don’t you think? It’s fun to apply web performance considerations to real world weight and fitness rules.

I agree with John & Steve; I strongly feel that there are many similarities that body weight loss and page weight loss have in common. Non-fatty diet complements healthy life. Non-heavy pages complement fast websites and more visitors. Exercising makes people stay healthy and happy. Practicing web performance rules result in faster websites. Keep watching your weight, don’t slip, keep up with the training, and then working out becomes easier with time.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how to engage people in the organization I work at to get excited about web performance and to make it part of the product development cycle.

Hands down, this is not new stuff that I am proposing here, many smart people in the web performance community have been talking about this for a while. Some great must-read articles below.

All of those articles share the same thought: Come up with concepts and ideas to engage people to buy into web performance.

The idea here is that you make performance part of the process instead of something that may or may not get tacked on at the end. (Tim Kadlec)

You need  to get the people who make the decisions about your products excited about performance and the value of making things fast(er) and perform well. This needs to happen early on in the process. Everybody needs to be on board, including the IAs and designers.

I’ve noticed that if you show people numbers, graphs, % (percentages) and A/B testing results to emphasize on web performance, they start to pay attention and show interest, sometimes they even are so taken away by the results that they share them with other departments and colleagues. That’s what you want, that’s great, however I keep wondering what else they’d like to see to keep them motivated and engaged in the value and importance of web performance.

While Mark talks about “budget” and Christian about the “Vanilla Web Diet“, or tools like YSlow or PageSpeed aim to give marks, I’d like to suggest another possible engaging way to keep performance on a constant radar during product development and not only after (when it’s often too late).

The Weight Watchers Points System

Background

Everybody knows about Weight Watchers, right? This thing seems to work. Ask Jennifer Hudson or ask people you know who’ve tried it. It really seems to work. So, why is that?

  • You don’t have to starve yourself while dieting
  • Social support & support groups help you to not give up
  • The points system: Calculated based on body size, activity level and desired weight loss, you are assigned a certain number of points for each day, e.g vegetables and fruits tend to have few or no points whereas – you guess – sweets, bread and potatoes are higher points assigned to.

Page Weight Points System

How about we promote a page weight points system to the team we work with (and the client who asks for a “heavy” product) to emphasize the necessity of web performance. Wouldn’t it be fun if you came up with a points system for elements on a page or within an app that outlines what and how they impact performance. Each of those elements can then be assessed if they are needed and if so could also undergo a diet if needed.

The points system could help to make performance more tangible.

May I present a rather light (and not so serious) analogy on how you could get started with assigning points to the elements of your product.

  • Ads: That in my world could be compared to that chocolate cake that only tricks you and teases you, takes away needed space but doesn’t really make you look better but brings in money.
  • Tracking: It’s like essential oils and fats that one needs to continue the business in order to grow and make decisions.
  • Social plugins: That could be the beer or cocktail you’d want to drink at the bar so you feel more comfortable chatting up that cute girl next to you.
  • Images: Depending on the purpose of the page/app, images could be beneficial or even required to engage visitors to your product , so you could compare it with Vitamine C from an orange, for example.
  • Text: Text is very light but is needed to represent the product, that could be compared to water. I doubt the points for that would be high.

Once broken down in elements, you could now assign points to them.

The points system could be accompanied by blacklisted temptations that stakeholders might want to throw in the product.

If you were to decide to introduce a points system like Weight Watchers does, please remember the danger with any diet or weight loss program: avoid the yo-yo effect once the product is out.

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