### Is there a 'Moore's Law' for web pages?

I came across an article I wrote in 1999 for The Guardian entitled Cut you modem's flying time which mentions that at the time the HTML of The Guardian's home page was 18kB.  Today the home page is more like 250kB.

I was curious about the growth pattern so using the Internet Archive I downloaded the home page of The Guardian for every year available from 1996 to 2011 (plus the current page) and compared the sizes of the HTML of the front page.  Here's the raw data:

```  Year  Bytes
----  -----
1996   5381
1997  11140
1998  10435
1999  39013
2000  97746
2001  70933
2002  92995
2003  81833
2004  92637
2005  92078
2006 108445
2007 118300
2008 186670
2009 184271
2010 181221
2011 192592
2012 253748
```

This excludes anything other than the raw HTML of / on The Guardian.  Clearly, it's grown a lot, but curious about the pattern I decided to see what curve would fit by using Wolfram Alpha.  Linear, quadratic and cubic fits were all about an R^2 of 0.90.  But an exponential fitted with R^2 of 0.97.

The exponential that generates that curve is 28985.6 * (1.134292^x) (x being the year counting 1996 as 0).  For comparison, Moore's Law is n * 1.414213^x (doubling every two years; I don't have an estimate for n).
For that exponential doubling takes a bit more than 5 years.
I wonder if there's a 'Moore's Law' for web sites.  Are we seeing exponential growth in the HTML used?  And what happens if we take into account the other assets?  And what's the relationship between this and bandwidth consumed on the Internet?
Discuss.

Dave O said…
Interesting! Your plot seems to agree with Figure 1 in this study that includes the top 1000 web sites from 1995 to 2007:

Average Web Page Size Septuples Since 2003
Unknown said…
The trend is going towards doing more declaratively: Microdata, the data-* attributes, the video element, new input types and so on are clear signs.

I assume, that with more and more HTML5 features coming into play the HTML for a piece of content will naturally increase.

An important metric, however, would be, if, and how much, the net content of the page increased. Are there more teasers, more copy text, and so on than in 1996?
Dave O said…
Too many people design web sites that look like this.
Anonymous said…
Considering that most pages have at best 1-10KiB of worthy textual content, I don't know how they've managed to produce such a crapfest.
You can get a lot more historical data from the HTTP Archive Project which is doing similar analysis: http://httparchive.org/
Kevin Day said…
You're clearly overfitting the data with the exponential fit. Just because it has a higher R^2 doesn't prove anything. Linear is probably the only one that would make sense for that data set.
Unknown said…
I would expect to see the byte count decrease in the future as such sites move towards client-side content. For example, gmail.com is a single small page that is populated by client side JavaScript calls. Measuring the size of an HTML file may not reflect the growth in complexity.

### Your last name contains invalid characters

My last name is "Graham-Cumming". But here's a typical form response when I enter it:

Does the web site have any idea how rude it is to claim that my last name contains invalid characters? Clearly not. What they actually meant is: our web site will not accept that hyphen in your last name. But do they say that? No, of course not. They decide to shove in my face the claim that there's something wrong with my name.

There's nothing wrong with my name, just as there's nothing wrong with someone whose first name is Jean-Marie, or someone whose last name is O'Reilly.

What is wrong is that way this is being handled. If the system can't cope with non-letters and spaces it needs to say that. How about the following error message:

Our system is unable to process last names that contain non-letters, please replace them with spaces.

Don't blame me for having a last name that your system doesn't like, whose fault is that? Saying "Your last name …

### All the symmetrical watch faces (and code to generate them)

If you ever look at pictures of clocks and watches in advertising they are set to roughly 10:10 which is meant to be the most attractive (smiling!) position for the hands. They are actually set to 10:09.14 if the hands are truly symmetrical. CC BY 2.0image by Shinji
I wanted to know what all the possible symmetrical watch faces are and so I wrote some code using Processing. Here's the output (there's one watch face missing, 00:00 or 12:00, because it's very boring):

The key to writing this is to figure out the relationship between the hour and minute hands when the watch face is symmetrical. In an hour the minute hand moves through 360° and the hour hand moves through 30° (12 hours are shown on the watch face and 360/12 = 30).
The core loop inside the program is this:   for (int h = 0; h <= 12; h++) {
float m = (360-30*float(h))*2/13;
int s = round(60*(m-floor(m)));
int col = h%6;
int row = floor(h/6);
draw_clock((r+f)*(2*col+1), (r+f)*(row*2+1), r, h, floor(m…

### The Elevator Button Problem

User interface design is hard. It's hard because people perceive apparently simple things very differently. For example, take a look at this interface to an elevator:

From flickr

Now imagine the following situation. You are on the third floor of this building and you wish to go to the tenth. The elevator is on the fifth floor and there's an indicator that tells you where it is. Which button do you press?

Most people probably say: "press up" since they want to go up. Not long ago I watched someone do the opposite and questioned them about their behavior. They said: "well the elevator is on the fifth floor and I am on the third, so I want it to come down to me".

Much can be learnt about the design of user interfaces by considering this, apparently, simple interface. If you think about the elevator button problem you'll find that something so simple has hidden depths. How do people learn about elevator calling? What's the right amount of informati…