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Improving font load performance

Improving font load performance

This post is a result of an article I came across recently. https://csswizardry.com/2020/05/the-fastest-google-fonts/. This is a nice post which in detail about improving the performance of a website when loading fonts from Google.

There is a lot of interesting items going on to make the web page load faster.

  1. font-display: swap
    Instructs the browser to use the fallback font to display the text until the custom font has fully downloaded. This is also known as a “flash of unstyled text” or FOUT
  2. preload
    The preload value of the <link> element’s rel attribute lets you declare fetch requests in the HTML’s <head>, specifying resources that your page will need very soon.
  3. preconnect
    The preconnect value of the <link> informs the browser that your page intends to establish a connection to another origin, and that you’d like the process to start as soon as possible.

Of course, I wanted to see if this can help our home page load faster. The sample page to try this was the products page of hackerrank (https://www.hackerrank.com/products/). To benchmark my results, I used https://www.webpagetest.org/ from Dulles, NA using Chrome with DSL internet speed.

These are the four different versions that were considered for this experiment.

GoogleFont-V0The base version which is the exact HTML copy of the HackerRank’s current webpage.
GoogleFont-V1Removed an extra font-tag, which loads the same font OpenSans font again.
GoogleFont-V2Added preload, print media swap, and merged the Open Sans and Source Code Pro in a single HTML tag at the head of the page.
GoogleFont-V4Added preload, print media swap, and merged the Open Sans and Source Code Pro in a single HTML tag at the bottom of the page.

After all the experiment and measuring the web pages, the output was disappointing 🙂

Neither was there any change in the visual progress and overall timings.

Like I mentioned earlier, I’m a little disappointed with the final result. I was hoping the font optimization will help a little bit. Running the same tests from the Singapore region resulted in the same results. The four different versions of the code we used for testing are available at https://github.com/sp2hari/google-fonts.

There is still a lot of scope for improvement. I see the first 4.5 seconds nothing really happening in the webpage and that’s something I plan to work on soon. The goal is to cut down the time to load by at least 1 second.

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