Changing culture

I’ve been reading a lot of things lately about performance on the web. Much of the writing being done has been spurred by the release of Facebook Instant, and while I agree with what is being said by many smart people, I can’t help but wonder something.

I agree that we need a cultural shift in how we build for the web, but how does that happen? Companies need to earn money, this is a basic reality, and they do that by advertising and other means. While I too hate the way you have to dismiss modals and other things to read an article, I don’t understand how the cultural change occurs, who has the power to make that happen?

I think what I’m asking is, who will be the game changer in this conversation? Who will be the large, bulky site that will work towards performance and make it happen and then we will all point to them and say, see they did it. It seems to me that that is what it takes. Much like we pointed to ESPN and being able to use CSS for layout or The Boston Globe and being able to do responsive at a large scale, who will we point to for the performance overhaul?

I ask, because, in my mind, it is going to take a large site, one that decides to do this and still generates revenue, or is considered successful in whatever measure is appropriate, that will get our attention and wake people up.

There are a lot of people doing fantastic work in this area, but it doesn’t seem to be penetrating the large multinational or national company that this is important. Therefore they’ve gone to other means, such as Facebook Instant, to solve the problem. And I say this as someone who’s done a lot of client work and worked in large bureaucratic companies, it’s hard work to get people interested in dropping things, such as tracking scripts or a modal to try and get your email address, for the sake of performance.

So while I agree with all that is being written, that performance must be a part of the culture at all levels, with the folks who never touch a line of code caring about it as much as those designing and writing the code, I wonder how it gets to that point. Do we force people to use only 3G for a week? Do we throttle the company internet so that all the employees feel the slowness and the effect of their bulky pages? I’m not sure, but maybe something like that is in order.

Because right now, I feel like we are all talking in a bit of an echo chamber, and the people who need to hear this aren’t hearing it. But I’d love to be proven wrong.