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A case study on why the modern web sucks: the Space Jam website

Since 1996, the Space Jam website has remained online, unchanged, a time capsule of the web 25 years ago.

In advance of the sequel, Space Jam: A New Legacy, the website has been updated for the first time in over two decades (with the old one thankfully archived at the link above).

With both websites available online, Max Böck decided to run a performance test to see how the web from 25 years ago performs against the modern web. The results are… underwhelming, but unsurprising.

Unsurprisingly, the new site is a lot heavier than the original: with 4.673KB vs. 120KB, the new site is about 39 times the size of the old one. That’s because the new site has a trailer video, high-res images and a lot more Javascript.

This is keeping with the general trend of websites growing heavier every year, with the average site weighing in at around 1.900KB now.

But since our connection speeds and device capabilities are significantly better now - that’s fine. Everything is way faster now than it was back in the days of Michael Jordan’s first Looney Tunes adventure.

Is it though? Let’s find out.

Max actually went so far as to test the old Space Jam website using 1996 connection speeds against the new one using modern connection speeds, to get a true apples-to-apples performance comparison.

He found that the new site loads just 1.3 seconds faster on a connection that’s 30 times faster than the 1996 site. I read elsewhere that the archived 1996 site now includes Google Analytics (the original didn’t), and I wonder if the 1996 would actually win without it.

Go read Max’s article to get the full results and see all the data.

To me, the conclusion is obvious: the modern web sucks.