Bundle size

Assets

Images carry most of the weight of a web page. You must always think about the optimization of all images, videos or fonts in a project. You can save megabytes just by running a simple optimization.

Asynchronous loading could tremendously increase loading performance.

Images

Go for the correct format. Always optimize images (or serve them through services like Cloudinary). Consider using webp if possible.

Images must be of a high enough quality, optimized, responsive, loaded fast or lazy-loaded if needed. Lighthouse does a great job with recommendations on how images could be improved.

Image formats

Each format is suitable for a different need. Be wise when choosing.

  • JPG

    • Lossy compression

    • Great for photos, illustrations or background images

  • GIF

    • Limited to 256 colors

    • Can be transparent (svg/png/webp is recommended)

    • Can be animated (but video is recommended)

    • No longer used very often

  • PNG

    • Lossless compression

    • Images that must have better quality (logos, infographics, etc.)

    • Can be transparent

    • 8bit or 32bit version

  • WebP

    • A modern image format with improved support, but which could be fixed by polyfill

    • Provides superior lossless and lossy compression for images on the web

  • SVG

    • Vector format

    • Great for icons

    • Can be animated by CSS or JavaScript

    • Can even have raster images inside of it

Optimization

To reduce image size, you can use many Optimization Tools, But before you choose one, you should know how to optimize your images.

  • You need to have many responsive images to cover various screen sizes.

  • Reduce unnecessary image decode and resize costs.

  • Use srcset or picture to serve different sizes.

  • Consider art direction

  • Do a fallback when using next-gen formats, such as WebP.

  • Create a thumbnail or preview image (or both!).

Read the amazing Image Guide by Addy Osmani.

Optimization Tools

  • ImageOptim software with nice GUI

  • mozjpeg, jpegtran, pngquant, optipng, svgo, webp optimization libraries, from the terminal or in a pre-commit hook

  • imagemin combining the above-mentioned libraries with its plugin system; library for usage

  • Cloudinary as a third-party solution, with cool AI underneath

Danny compared how each tool perform: https://github.com/dannytce/image-optimization

A comprehensive article by Addy Osmani on Google Developers.

When to optimize?

All the time! You shouldn’t work with unoptimized assets because this slows down your machine. Same goes for when you are optimizing your assets during build time. You actually need to preview those optimized images to confirm if they were optimized properly. It’s not bad and is perfectly suitable for image uploading from the app itself. But the rest of the images which are a part of designs should be optimized right away.

There are three significant times when you can optimize:

Runtime of application

  • Services like Cloudinary provide an amazing experience of working with images.

  • Unfortunately, with a big amount of images, you’re also paying a lot of money.

  • There are cheaper alternatives, but why pay anything when you don’t need to. Cloudinary is a great service, but you shouldn't use it all the time.

Build time

  • Not ideal because you work with unoptimized assets, which slows your machine. And you don’t see the final result until the build step.

  • Affects a build time. (Optimization itself is a very expensive process, thus it’s slow)

  • With each build, you need to run optimization again. This is seemingly counterproductive.

  • Usually, we build our apps with a webpack, which is a bundler. It shouldn't do the optimization in the first place.

Development time

  • Whenever you add new images to your project, optimize them!

  • Whenever you export images from a design editor, be sure you are exporting an optimized version. For Sketch, you can use the amazing ImageOptim extension, which runs in the background and does the optimization automatically.

Videos

If you need to display videos and don't want to embed them from services like YouTube or Vimeo because you want more control over your player and its controls, then the HTML5 video tag is your solution. It works with a few file formats: MP4, the oldest and most popular, and WebM and Ogg, the more forward-thinking but with lesser browser support.

You may also want to give some extra life to your homepage by adding video backgrounds. This can provide great visual effects but comes with the cost of megabytes. If you do decide to pay the price, use short, well-compressed files, and always consider using a fallback for mobile devices.

Even though it’s become possible to autoplay background videos on mobile phones, you need to think of which internet network the mobile phone uses. It could be a fast WiFi, but it could also be 3G.

Unfortunately, based on caniuse.com, there is still very vague support of Network Information API. You can write your own detection or even put it into WebWorkers. But this matters just in case you really need to display a large image or video.

Fonts

There are a lot of ways to serve fonts for your website, but it's not always clear when to use which.

In most cases, you'll be safe with Google Fonts, since there are many fonts available for free, it's easy to use and it won't give you a headache from setting up self-hosting. However, sometimes you're stuck with self-hosting because you have to use a font that is not provided by Google Fonts. No matter which method you choose, always think of subsetting (Google Fonts support this), as you probably won't need the full font set that might contain characters from specific aphlabets (eg. Greek), and you don't want unused stuff to be loaded onto your user's browser. Be careful not to overuse it though.

Font loaded detection

CSS property font-display got a very solid cross-browser support. And it’s also supported by Google Fonts.

But if you would love to have bigger control, you will probably also want to use Font Face Observer. It's an amazing, lightweight tool that detects if a font has already loaded on your website. It works with font services and self-hosted fonts as well, the Promise-based API is straightforward and the browser support is very good. Here's a simple usage which emulates FOUT for My Family font.

const font = new FontFaceObserver('My Family')
font.load().then(function() {
document.documentElement.className += ' fonts-loaded'
})
.fonts-loaded body {
font-family: My Family, sans-serif;
}

Naming

If you have the same font with different types (let's say Roboto-Regular, Roboto-Bold, Roboto-Italic), always use the same font-family in CSS but change the font with font-weight/font-style properties:

@font-face {
font-family: 'Roboto';
src: url('Roboto-regular-webfont.woff2') format('woff2'), url('Roboto-regular-webfont.woff')
format('woff');
font-weight: normal;
font-style: normal;
}
@font-face {
font-family: 'Roboto';
src: url('Roboto-bold-webfont.woff2') format('woff2'), url('Roboto-bold-webfont.woff')
format('woff');
font-weight: bold;
font-style: normal;
}
@font-face {
font-family: 'Roboto';
src: url('Roboto-regular-italic-webfont.woff2') format('woff2'), url('Roboto-regular-italic-webfont.woff')
format('woff');
font-weight: normal;
font-style: italic;
}

Font stacking

One more thing you have to keep in mind when dealing with fonts is font stacking, which is basically a no-cost backup and can come handy if, for instance, font files go missing, font services are down or font downloading is disabled in the browser (yes, that happens sometimes).

FOUT, FOIT, FOFT

Flash of Unstyled Text (FOUT), Flash of Invisible Text (FOIT) and Flash of Faux Text (FOFT) are very unpleasant from the UX perspective. As a frontend developer, you are the last person in line with the power to prevent it. Use font-display or load fonts asynchronously.

AWS S3 storage

Amazon Simple Storage Service is a storage service suitable for scaling. You can upload as many files as you need, and almost for free. Usually, it’s a task meant for backend developers. But if you are building a CMS, or you just have too many large files in your repository, consider moving them to the AWS S3.

To maximize the performance, use it with CDN (for example Amazon CloudFront)

Code splitting

Usually, web apps have different pages with different features. It doesn't make sense to load all of them, since just a small chuck is used. Common practice is to split your code into smaller pieces or chunks by either feature or route.

This decreases the initial load of the web a lot because we serve just a small portion of the needed code to the end-user.

How to do code-splitting?

Next.js and Gatsby do this automatically by files in the pages folder. The output is route-based chunks.

When you need to do even more chunks, you can also leverage a dynamic import feature of webpack. The feature itself is the ECMAScript proposal, which hasn’t been accepted yet. But you can fully use it with webpack!

React.lazy allows you to use dynamic import as a component when React.Suspense renders fallback (like Loading component), when the component is not fully fetched.

To verify how you performed code-splitting, use Chrome's Coverage tab and Webpack Bundle Analyzer to verify your chunks.

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3rd party libraries

When it comes to frontend development, we usually rely on many 3rd party libraries.

  • Some of the 3rd party libraries could be grouped into common chunks, or even loaded from CDN.

  • Some libraries are too big. Always check their size. And also think whether their usage is really needed for a project.

  • Besides their size, you should also check their stability (e.g. is it even production-ready?) and security.

Forbidden libraries

We work with React and many other great libraries in the ecosystem. But instead of writing down exactly what our technological stack is, it’s much easier to point out what we don’t recommend to use.

Bootstrap, Material UI

Any UI library is great and does its perfect job. But when you are dealing with numerous project builds with different styles, it’s actually really hard to master all of them. And choosing a specific one leaves you with your hands tied for future scalability.

Additionally, when you are implementing very custom designs, these usually don’t match with predefined styles of UI libraries. So, in the end, you need to rewrite them. And maybe it’s easier just to write it from scratch.

Of course, there are exceptions. For example, when you are building an administration and really do not care about design. In this case, it’s quite the opposite: you’d probably like to use something battle-tested.

React-admin is a great example of a solid administration using Material UI.

jQuery

The era of jQuery with all of the SPA frameworks is ending. It used to be great and still has some use cases. But what you can do with jQuery, you can also do with React or Vanilla JavaScript. So why worry about another big dependency? Also, the DOM manipulation doesn’t work well with React.

There are many great jQuery plugins and libraries. But unfortunately, they are quite heavy considering that, again, jQuery has a big dependency.

Redux-form

We already have our form favorite: Formik. But it doesn’t mean that it’s the best option. There are many great alternatives. Unfortunately, redux-form is not one of them. Even though it’s quite popular and has a lot of stars on GitHub, it has one critical issue: It manages the state of form in Redux. Which leads to bad performance.

The author of the library already created something new: React Final Form. This is yet another sign that you should avoid redux-form for your project.

Moment.js

Dealing with dates in JavaScript is difficult. Especially when it comes to timezones. Moment.js is without a doubt a great library, with amazing API. Given its large size, it’s suitable for Node.js projects. On the web, you should go for smaller alternative, such as data-fns or day-js which is only 2kB small.

https://github.com/you-dont-need/You-Dont-Need-Momentjs

Think before you npm-install

This is a generic rule that you can apply for any other library. Always consider size by using BundlePhobia, Wix’s Import Cost plugin for VSCode, or by using the webpack-bundle-analyzer.

Also, again — think of security.