We heard at Google I/O about Google's plans to help improve the experience of users on slow connections, especially in parts of the world where even 3G speeds are few and far between. They gave us a peek at how the search interface would change under those circumstances to improve those load times. Now, in select markets, the pages you click on will also be optimized to load much faster.
Google's estimates have you loading the page 4x as fast compared to the unaltered version when on a slow connection, with 80% less data. They claim, appealing to webmasters, that this results in 50% more pageviews due to the better experience and lower wait.
The program was piloted in Indonesia and according to an updated blog post, it will soon arrive in India and Brazil, two of Android's largest emerging markets. That's right, for now, you won't be seeing this in the United States even when connections are slow. Likewise, you will only see the "transcoded" pages on phones (not tablets) running Android and using Chrome. The changes will only occur if you reach the page from a Google search query as well. Lots of conditions apply.
And, to further clarify, the pages are only transcoded if the detected connection speed is below a certain (unstated) threshold.
The feature has no official name yet, but it is being referred to internally as Google Web Light. The redirected URLs are also at googleweblight.com while feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can see in the featured image for this article what Android Police looks like when the feature kicks in. Needless to say, the visual effects can be drastic for heavily themed websites like ours. Likewise, a more minimalist design will be less effected. Users can choose to load the full page if they want while webmasters can opt out of the change entirely. As you can see, Google's AdSense and a few ad networks still load properly. However, Google Analytics is not loaded as a means to save space. Here's a visual comparison of page load times:
Or, in our case, you can see with this film strip comparison that it is essentially totally usable after 14 seconds while the full version is still completely blank:
Here are a couple more looks at how it changed Android Police, visually speaking. First, it put our various navigation tools into a hamburger menu. Then, you can see that the post pages are basically just a stripped down version of themselves.
If you want to try things out for yourself, just go to http://googleweblight.com/?lite_url=[destination URL], putting in the website you want to see where I have brackets. If you'd rather just click something, you can view Android Police with this link.
- Google Support
- Eduardo Ribeiro