While it’s understandable that news sites want to maximise online revenues as offline ad sales decline, but they run the risk of damaging the user experience

Several popular newspaper sites are now cumbersome and slow to load, thanks to the sheer number of elements on the page. 

Having looked at the page speed of the top e-commerce sites in the UK, I thought I’d do the same with news sites. So which is the slowest? 

Independent

The Independent website is noticeably slow. After clicking on an article, you’re unable to scroll down at first while you wait for the various ads to load. 

It’s another news site where very little of the actual article can be seen above the fold, while the flickering and movement from banner and other ads is a distraction. 

As well as using Google’s PageSpeed Test, I’ve also used webpagetest, which notes the load time in seconds. 

The results: 

  • Google’s test gives the Indy 80 out of 100.
  • According to webpagetest, the homepage took 28.69 seconds to load fully. 

The Sun

The Sun also goes for as many annoying ads as it can, though at least it covers up a picture of Jimmy Savile in this case. 

It has a large homepage, but seems to be quicker than the Independent. 

The stats? 

  • Google gives the Sun a healthy 88. 
  • The load time according to webpagetest is 33.53 seconds. 

Daily Star

  • Google gives the Star a very poor 58. 
  • Load time is 14.36 seconds. 

Express

  • Google speed test: 72.
  • Load time: 15.52 seconds. 

The Times

  • Google speed test:74.
  • Page load time: 14.71 seconds. 

Telegraph

The Telegraph feels reasonably quick to load, but what do the stats say?

  • Google page speed score: 74.
  • Load time: 38.28 seconds. 

The Guardian

The Guardian isn’t averse to the odd ad on its pages, and they’re generally unobtrusive. There are exceptions though…

 

  • Google page speed: 83.
  • Load time: 11.5 seconds.

Daily Mirror

  • Google page speed: 83.
  • Load time: 15.13 seconds. 

Daily Mail

The homepage is enormous, and all those images in the ‘sidebar of shame’ must slow the site down surely? Let’s see…

  • Google page speed: 95 (top score). 
  • Load time: 29.52 seconds. 

Caveats

The two tools I’ve used here are a guide, and the speed of a site will very much depend on location, equipment used, and so on.

The time of the test seems to make a difference too. For example, I tested the Telegraph site two hours after I got the result published above, and the load time was down to 18.5 seconds

Likewise, a bad score on Google’s page speed tool doesn’t necessarily mean a site is slow, but it does provide some useful pointers on the kinds of issues slowing down sites. 

Conclusion

Though, based purely on the stats from the tests, the Telegraph is the slowest newspaper site of the nine I’ve looked at here, it isn’t noticeably slower to use than any other site here.

In fact, I would nominate the Independent as the slowest site, as it is visiibly slow, and you can’t scroll down and read articles until the various ad elements have finished loading. 

The stats say that the  fastest site is the Guardian, which scored 83 on Google’s test, and loads (fully) in just over 11 seconds.