There are a few things that can ruin an otherwise ideal web browsing experience. Malicious and misbehaving ads are the ones blamed most of the time but pages that load too slowly also waste your time and patience. Often, people will immediately presume it’s either the connection or their device that’s causing the slow experience but websites might also be unoptimized for today’s browsers and use cases. That’s why Google is planning on labeling sites that regularly load slowly so that you know that it’s them and not you that’s the problem.
Google wants to “identify sites that typically load fast or slow” to help users better understand when a site does load slowly and to reward those that load fast. Its current plan is to use some form of labeling, like a badge that appears while the page is loading in Chrome, to mark those slow websites. It’s like that almost infamous buffering circle but for web pages.
It is, of course, a not so subtle way to shame slow-loading sites. Such a strategy may be generally frowned upon but it has worked before. For example, Google clearly marked sites and pages that don’t use HTTPS as insecure. Eventually, Chrome will even block pages and resources loaded via insecure channels.
Of course, it can’t block slow sites because they aren’t really breaking any hard rule or endangering user security. In fact, Google hasn’t yet decided on the specific criteria to unambiguously identify such sites as well as tools that can be used to verify such labels. Unlike encryption and ads, site loading speed can be a bit trickier to pin down.
That said, Google is urging website owners not to wait for that day. It does already have tools for measuring the quality of a site or page as well as for optimizing browsing experiences. Amusingly enough, not even Google’s own sites are in the green using those tools.