I have a bad browser habit. At any given time, I will usually have dozens of tabs open. Its got to the point where my work PC regularly freezes up, and I'm pretty confident that it is due to the amount of memory being sucked up by 3 or 4 Chrome windows, each with 15-20 tabs open. (When it gets to the point where the icons disappear due to lack of space, I will usually start another one.)
The idea is that all of these pages have something interesting or useful in them – something I'm considering buying, work related research, interesting stories that I want to read properly but didn't have the time when I opened the page, things I was distracted from while reading (eg. opened a link in a new tab.)
But the thing is, this is supposed to be a powerful PC (Intel i7, 2.13GHz, 4GB, running Windows 7 64 bit – seems pretty good to me.) At home, my Macbook has 8GB of memory – enough that I can edit HD video, multitrack audio and do the kind of data crunching tasks in an hour or two that my last computer would have had to be left to run overnight (and probably still be running in the morning.) But the one thing that brings it consistently grinding to a halt is Safari (or whatever web browser I'm running), taking up too much memory with too many pages open.
I don't think that its something that has got much better – 5-6 years ago, the fact that the iPhone didn't support Flash was seen by many as a problem with the iPhone. Today, if a website relies on Flash it is more likely to be seen as a problem with the website than the device used to look at it. (I have avoided even installing Flash on my Mac, and run a Chrome plugin that stops Flash from loading on websites unless I specifically allow it.)
Motherfuckingwebsite.com explains these kinds of issues – quite angrily – but the key point is at the end.
What I'm saying is that all the problems we have with websites are ones we create ourselves. Websites aren't broken by default, they are functional, high-performing, and accessible. You break them.
Anyway, this issue with bloated web pages is an issue – but at the same time, there are "web apps" – websites that include all manner of additional functionality, but not because they are over-designing and over-engineering what is ultimately a piece of text to read. Because that's the point of the app. So, a web browser needs to be able to handle these. Right now, I expect to be able to have my CMS admin window, an RSS reader, Twitter, Instapaper, webmail and at least a couple of other web apps open at any given time, without my computer griding to a halt.
So, while bad web design is a problem, it isn't really my problem.
My problem is that I need to stop keeping so many web pages open.