Chaos-side rendering | Client-side rendered sites are sometimes worse

Go to vox.com. Go to uber.comDiy.org. Jetsetter.com. (Just to name a few.) In order to imitate a real-life scenario — as-in: you’re someone whose time is valuable; you’re someone who is not reading this blog and not blindly following my instructions — scroll around quickly as soon as you have anything to scroll. Look to find some information you believe will be there, like a company blog, or a particular section or post. Click through. Scroll around and back to the top.

You probably experience what I do, and it is something you won’t see running the same tests at nytimes.comdaringfireball.net and much more. As you scroll, new loading happens even if the site appears ‘done’ previously. Sometimes, when you’re looking at something, it ‘disappears’, pushed down by some content that finished loading after it and above it. The site’s width changes. An image appears unexpectedly. An image that was there, is now re-loading.

If you’re on your fancy computer, try the test again on your iPhone 5. Or your iPad 3. Or your brother-in-law’s 2-generations ago Nexus. Or your 3-year-old Windows 7 laptop. The problem only gets worse on the newer sites. Why? I’ll hazard a guess:

These (cutting-edge) websites are making our computers do tons of math. Client-side, on-time rendering, much-vaunted techniques enabled by the best and brightest web-development frameworks available, are ruining many newer sites. These are probably great developers with good management and intentions. But the user experience here is one of incoherence. This is chaos-side rendering, because it takes away the ability of the programmer and the user to know what the app does in practice.

Client-side rendering should give web developers pause. Developers have to know their users have far more than enough bandwidth, processing power and memory to load the content the way they see it in development. And while top of the line computers get faster, the entry level computing devices do not. (Then, they should have to load their site in the 12th tab in a $100 no-name Chinese ASOP device while in Antarctica on hotel WiFi to be sure they know what they think they know.) Client-side rendering might have gotten a site off the ground under budget. But now it might be bewildering that site’s users. 

Other websites use this technique to great effect, I know. Some sites are perfect for it: Only loading a splash screen. Load data based on user input into a static design. Render a minimalist text-heavy blog. These can and have all been done correctly client-side. 

This turn is even more frustrating, given that the Web won the battles of 2008: These sites tend to get their layout, navigation and error messaging right. But user experience is more than that; design is more than how it looks. 

(It’s no wonder Mr. Arment has stuck with PHP. I’m similarly addicted to Ruby, so I realize I have a confirmation bias here. Please, explain to me why I’m wrong.)

Implementation is always the hard part. Choosing frameworks and languages with theoretical benefits is like picking any such idea: un-proven. But loading content in a browser is not cost free. And someone has to pay up. First prove that won’t be left to your users.

(For the record, these observations were made in mid-2014 on a late-2013 rMBP and iPhone 5S over Britain’s decent fibre via WiFi.)

jkottke:

In the latest installment of his excellent series Ask A Native New Yorker, Jake Dobkin tackles the question of how to react to those people holding clipboards asking if you have a minute for the environment or gay rights or whatever. The short answer is ignore them with “EXTREME PREJUDICE”.

sticksstonesandherringbones:

The Twin Peaks Muppet prints are now available!

Thanks to the good folks over at InPrnt, all the designs are now all available print-to-order in a variety of sizes, AS WELL as i-phone and tablet cases!

Go to HERE to check them out, as well as some of my older designs, and thanks to everyone for all your positive feedback and support!

parislemon:

Fast Company:

If there’s one thing Brits and Yanks can agree on, it’s that getting a beer is better than getting a greeting card. So on July 3, the brand is encouraging Americans to grab a Newcastle Brown Ale and toast the Brits banished by the Revolutionary War—and celebrate how terrible American teeth could have been.

Well played, Newcastle.

chickensnack:

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“[Apple’s] value is in making life a little bit easier. Of course, some people are not willing to pay to have an easier life and some even want to make their lives more complicated so Apple’s proposal to make life easier, for a price, is not accepted by everybody—which is ok by them. But for many, paying for comfort, productivity and ease of mind is worth quite a bit. The reason Apple is able to gain a premium over the competition is that this value proposal (of paying for simplification) is either weak or non-existent for competitors. Indeed, many competitors compete on the basis of making life more complicated.”