One of Google’s stated goals, when it launched the Chrome browser, was to make the web faster. It has followed that up with initiatives like search ranking that factors in page loading speed and the AMP mobile web format. Google’s next idea is the shame websites that have a tendency to load slowly in Chrome.
We’ve all landed on a web page that takes its time loading. You have to wonder in situations like that if there’s something wrong on your end or if it’s the website’s fault. Google’s proposed alert system would clarify matters in a typically passive-aggressive Google fashion.
While the exact design and nature of the slow loading notification are up in the air, Google is leaning toward a specially themed “splash screen.” It’s currently experimenting with pages that say things like “Usually loads slow.” Meanwhile, sites that load quickly could get their own UI tweaks. For example, pages that show consistently snappy page loads could have a green progress bar instead of the regular blue one. Google is also toying with the idea of adding page loading information to the context menu, allowing insight into a page’s experience even before you start loading.
So, if you find yourself waiting on a sluggish website, the blank page might be replaced with a notice that the page usually loads slowly. This isn’t something Google would decide in the moment, though. The slow badge would only hit sites that have a historical tendency to load slowly. Later, Google might expand the warnings to include identifying when page loads are likely to be slow based on a user’s device and network conditions.
This effort is in the extremely early stages, so only a small number of users will see the warnings, and it sounds like Google will focus mostly on mobile. The Chrome team also doesn’t want to smack developers over the head with unachievable page-loading standards. Part of the development process will be determining what criteria are important when labeling sites as chronically slow.
For now, Google suggests web developers who are worried their sites might be too sluggish should use the PageSpeed Insights and Lighthouse tools. It will provide more details of the badging program as it takes shape in the coming months.
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