Our recent newspaper study dealt exclusively with the features present on newspaper websites. We didn’t look critically at the design of these sites. The adoption of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) makes it possible for web developers to create rich designs while keeping the file size of pages to a minimum.

In looking at newspaper websites, it becomes clear pretty quickly that their homepages are bloated. They try to stick as much data as possible on the homepage (including ads).

Given that, we decided to look at the file sizes of the homepages of the top 10 newspapers, and how much of that file size is devoted to advertising. Note that file size does not always equate to load times. Other factors such as the number of database calls and the quality of the hosting environment play big roles.

These numbers were grabbed using the Firebug Firefox extension. Sizes were recorded both with Adblock on and off, so we can get an idea of how much space is devoted to advertising.

USA Today

With Ads: 735 KB
No Ads: 570 KB

Wall Street Journal

With Ads: 954 KB
No Ads: 767 KB

New York Times

With Ads: 655 KB
No Ads: 434 KB

LA Times

With Ads: 897 KB
No Ads: 772 KB

Denver Post

With Ads: 820 KB
No Ads: 609 KB

Chicago Tribune

With Ads: 687 KB
No Ads: 592 KB

Washington Post

With Ads: 569 KB
No Ads: 475 KB

New York Daily News

With Ads: 883 KB
No Ads: 714 KB

New York Post

With Ads: 705 KB
No Ads: 630 KB

Houston Chronicle

With Ads: 205 KB
No Ads: 136 KB

Couple of comments:

(1) The average newspaper homepage serves 141 KB of ads that are zapped by Adblock.

(2) The New York Times serves the most ads on their homepage according to Adblock, at 221 KB of ads.

(3) Based on the sizes of these pages, none of these papers is designing for dial up users, except the Houston Chronicle. The Houston Chronicle deserves a prize – their website is 364 KB smaller than the next leanest homepage, the Washington Post.

(4) Here are the load times for some other websites:

Google: 15 KB
Yahoo: 155 KB
Amazon: 519 KB
Digg: 115 KB
MySpace: 162 KB
Facebook Logged in: 159 KB
eBay: – 285 KB
Bivings: 98 KB
Bivings Report: 552 KB

About the Author
Todd Zeigler
Todd Zeigler serves as the Brick Factory’s chief strategist and oversees the operations of the firm. In his sixteen year career in digital, he has planned and implemented campaigns for clients including the Pickens Plan, International Youth Foundation, Panthera, Edison Electric Institute, and the American Chemistry Council. Todd develops ambitious online advocacy programs, manages crises, implements online marketing strategies, and develops custom applications and software. He is bad at golf though.