As the web continues to evolve, and more and more people are empowered to create their own sites, there is little to no concern for those on slower connections.
It’s been said that 10% of U.S. households still use dial-up internet to access the web. This could be due to the lack of high speed options in their area, unwillingness to pay the $50+ a month for high speed, or no real need to go faster.
Over the past weekend, I was trying to figure out how to make my Mom’s internet experience faster. She lives on a farm in rural Minnesota and, believe it or not, only gets 28k connection speed. Qwest says that’s as good as she can get since she lives in the country. Her only other option is to purchase high speed via DirectTV for about $60/month. Needless to say, her browsing experience is OK for the price.
So I did a little digging to see what I could do to make pages load faster in Firefox. Here are 4 extensions that helped.
ImgLikeOpera – This is a great extension. It allows the user to disable all images, all but cached images or all images not loading from this site. This was a big enhancement for my Mom’s computer. I told her that if she’s just looking for a phone number or address, to browse without images on. The extension also allows her to choose which images she’d like to load on a page. This helps cut down on loading all the un-necessary, and often large, images on websites.
Flashblock – Flash is not necessary on most websites. It’s often used as an accent or for advertising. So I blocked it. Chances are she won’t miss it and the pages will load faster.
Fasterfox Lite – I’m not 100% convinced that this works that well, but if we gain a few seconds, then it’s worth it. Fasterfox Lite tweaks some of Firefox’s settings that provide faster loading pages.
Adblock Plus – I understand that advertising is needed on the web, but flashing image banners and Flash ads just take additional time to load. So I blocked them too. Normally I wouldn’t do this, but at 28k, I’ll try anything.
The biggest benefits for slower connections will be blocking images and Flash. Text renders quickly and if you can avoid the graphic elements, chances are your page will load faster and you’ll get the information you’re looking for quicker.