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When it comes to HTML, it can be a tell-tale sign of how efficient a website has been built, straying on the large side can be a big opportunity to get your code lean and improve customer experience. HTML is the gel that connects most of the front end of the site, the area customers will see – if you’re someone who is experienced in website management, it’s highly likely that you know what it is but you may not know the benefits of keeping the code lean on pages.

How do I identify pages with too much HTML?

There is an unofficial threshold, that’s 2MB for the entire page’s HTML. To identify which pages are packing on the bloated side is to simply conduct a crawl on the website. I’ve used SEMRush in the past and I know they flag this specific issue but I’d also consider SiteBulb, Screaming Frog and Ahrefs auditing tools as they all identify slow loading speed (which can be attributed to HTML) under different guises.

How can I fix pages with too much HTML?

Reading through the code is a start, look for elements which are no longer required. Trimming things like meta keywords, unnecessary tags and bloated HTML can really trim the page size and provide a much more rapid feel. Another quick win when it comes to HTML is assessing if inline CSS is required; normally it is recommended but if you’re packing a seriously bloated site it may not be the best approach – 2MB or higher will often indicate a vast amount of lines on the page. Drawing in custom fonts, excessive images and elements can also ramp up the HTML on your site, carefully construct a feature vs. performance comparison and ensure all features are using the leanest and smallest amount of code required to render the element for a user.

How can I prevent publishing too much HTML on a page?

When you build out a page you need to be very mindful of the elements collectively; consider chopping content up into multiple pages if it’s warranted. If you are having a hard time getting a page under a reasonable threshold then I would suggest running a waterfall assessment of the page; this breaks down each element and how long it took to fully render. If you constantly review a fully completed page to ensure it doesn’t become problematic, using the latest and leanest code, it should be easy to keep within tolerances.

Additional comments on using too much HTML

  1. The loading speed and page size fall very much in line with each other, opening potential issues with Google Page Speed / Lighthouse scores. Sometimes functionality and cosmetics have to be wound down or suppressed in order to provide users with a good experience.
  2. Low connection speeds need to be considered; it’s very easy validating a website speed on a fast connection using modern laptops, think of the person on a train on the worst wifi ever, getting very frustrated because your website is not loading.
  3. AMP is a consideration; it adapts the code on the page to be minimalistic, be careful with AMP though as you can run into issues if not deployed correctly, I do have an AMP errors guide to help you.
  4. Assets can also be a key issue here, compress images and use next-gen formats like webp, it’s very easy to fall behind due to a small number of elements/assets; this is how waterfall assessments can really help.