Wasn’t ESPN.com supposed to be the great example of a large website that was designed to adhere to standards and valid markup? If so, then someone should check in on the company’s compliance officer; he might have died at his desk.

Seriously, the degeneration of ESPN’s website has reached the point where, on my G4 Powerbook and via a dedicated T1, it takes over 14 seconds to load in Firefox, and over 16 seconds to load in Safari. There’s over 105 Kb of Javascript included in the site’s home page, added to the 114 Kb of images and 58 separate objects loaded from 14 different URLs (not including any additional objects that piggyback along with the Javascript files or Flash movies). That’s all just abhorrent, and the perfect example of the fact that even if they managed to wrangle the site into compliance, it’d still tremendously suck. It’s no wonder the sports URL my brain types out before I have a chance to think about moved to sports.yahoo.com about six months ago.


ESPN’s website loads and renders from their site in under five seconds on Firefox for me on shared DSL (rated at 329.1 Kbps by CNET). The site was not in my cache.

This is on a three-year old Windows 2000 IBM Thinkpad T22.

Interestingly, Internet Explorer took around 10 seconds to fully load and render the page.

Of course, what would a weblog comment be without flamebait? The conclusion is obvious: Windows machines are just better than Macs.

• Posted by: Sam Greenfield on Jan 13, 2005, 11:21 PM

There are worse sites, like www.chron.com (the Houston Chronicle). On my T1 with a dual-1Ghz G4, the main page loads quickly in a mere 15 seconds, but subpages with stories take over 30 seconds.

I’ve heard rumors that Safari can slow down like this if you have prefs set to autofill lots of different form fields. Turning autofill off (or purging the cache) can speed things up on pages laden with input forms. I don’t like that solution so I haven’t tried it.

• Posted by: Charles on Jan 14, 2005, 12:42 AM

FYI, ESPN.com is up and ready to go in under 2 seconds on my all-Microsoft (for obvious reasons) machine, over a standard cable modem.

• Posted by: PLC on Jan 14, 2005, 2:23 AM

Maybe the folks at espn.com have all had a taste of the validation-isn’t-important Kool-Aid. Mike Davidson, who worked on the original redesign, has even purposely invalidated his site to prove the mind-boggling assertion that you can support standards without, well, supporting standards.

• Posted by: Wayne Burkett on Jan 14, 2005, 6:51 PM

The only Kool-Aid in the web standards world is what Wayne is serving up. In other words, the assertion that in order to support the cause of web standards you must be 100% compliant at all times and at all costs. That sort of thing might be easy in the one-template world of blogs, but not in the world of mega sites. Read the article you linked to.

If you want to knock ESPN for, let’s face it, bastardizing the site since the last redesign, then fine. But I think the problems have less to do with web standards and more to do with editorial decisions. There’s just so much crap on there now!

• Posted by: Jeremy Stein on Jan 15, 2005, 7:06 PM
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