In a recent post, Google announced their intention to badge websites based on their speed and “in the future”, based on “high-quality experience, which may include signals beyond just speed”.
Their motivation – “to help users understand when a site may load slow, while rewarding sites delivering fast experiences” is shady at best. Because, well, I can see by myself when a website is slow and chose not to use it. And what makes a website fast anyway?
Shaming websites by awarding them a slow badge will penalize startups that don’t have the time (or budget) to invest in performance and reward those who do – medium to big businesses.
Further along, we may expand this to include identifying when a page is likely to be slow for a user based on their device and network conditions.
This should be the main goal! When I’m in the mountains or somewhere with little to no cell signal, I’d prefer websites that load faster.
Shaming works. Since 2014, when Google started rewarding https websites with better places in their ranking algorithm and warning users every time they visited websites without valid https certificates, the SSL adoption skyrocketed from 15% to over 50%. This, along the appearance of Let’s Encrypt and its integration with major hosting providers, made the web a safer place.
Speed is just not as critical as the https problem was. The idea of badging websites is worth considering, but the way to make it work is by setting a level that can be easily achieved by everyone.
Why shouldn’t we make the web faster? The stick can be a powerful incentive.