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Fragmented Development

Bits and Bytes

All ye connecting with phoneline modems, all ye who make sandwiches while waiting for files to download, I feel your pain. For I am a web minimalist.

You can often find me pouring over HTML, over CSS, looking to trim out unneeded characters. Comments are wonderful for explaining the reasoning behind code, but with CSS and HTML, visitors download those explanations along with the code that makes everything work. Comments had to go. When I found out that the normal hexadecimal format for naming colors (a pound sign [#] followed by six numbers) could be simplified for any colors within the web-safe 256 colors, I instantly shrank all of my blacks and whites (along with anything else I could). It only saved three bytes here and there, but I like to think about it using ridiculous figures.

In 2005, the Warren County had 158,569 hits (that were recorded; We don't monitor all pages yet). Let's say we get that many this year as well (even though it looks like we'll get more). The size of the Warren County web site main page, in 2005, came in around 83.4 KB. If that was downloaded 158,569 times, that rings in around... 13.2 GB of traffic. Holy shit.

With my minimalistic tendencies, I've gotten it down to about 59.17 KB, all while adding three 300px X 150px images. You have no idea how happy this makes me. But nevertheless, if this page was downloaded as many times as the 2005 version was, the total bandwidth used would be 9.4 GB. Saving nearly 4 GB a year in bandwidth is nothing to shake a stick at.

Regardless, this is not a highly trafficked site. Simple CSS and HTML minimalism, applied to a site that gets millions of hits a month, could theoretically save a company thousands in bandwidth costs, not to mention saving those with slow connections the trouble of having to download your bulky site. Our smaller site takes a little over one second on a full 56K connection, which must come as a great relief to people that use that to come to our site. In the age of multi-megabyte web sites with flash, videos, music, and more, the guys who keep their sites small seem to fall into good favor with search engines - and the percentage of people still dialing into the internet.

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