On performance and themes

I like to read about the topic of web performance, try to understand how things work and what are the correct patterns to use or avoid on the web. This means that I try to focus on using optimized javascript and css, don't include huge libraries and dead code that it isn't used.

But on the other hand it's clear that there are lots of CMS like WordPress, and shops like PrestaShop, both provide support for themes, so designers use Photoshop, slice that up, and generate a ton of Javascript and CSS by picking all the libraries, components and whatever they need.

There's no worry about file size, page performance or anything like that, it's just a matter of make it look nice, not make it look nice and work in an optimized way. And people prefer a nice looking site even if it takes slightly longer to load that one that has no design or is using outdated styles.

Recently I looked at some page templates trying to find a nice looking one for a NGO, and after reviewing several ones, I thought that I had found a good one, but my heart felt when I found that it was created by mixing several css files that are loaded on demand and all the responsiveness is achieved with javascript that modifies the DOM and changes the css files loaded according to the resize of the window. Yes, not even a single media query rule, all done with javascript.

So I threw it all away, started with a clean page and I was able to create my "design" mixing things from here and there, starting with a mobile-first approach for the first time and the outcome is a simple page with the required styles and scripts that I can keep on improving, a fraction of the size of any of those designs that I looked at.

Obviously the drawback is that in order to do this I had to spent my time, so it's easy to understand why for many sites the answer is to use those kind of themes. It's just a matter of finding the one that you like, pay for it once and you're ready to go, but it would be great if the pages hosting themes could provide some help to highlight themes with good performance and correct use of the new technologies.

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