Scaling up your web experience, everywhere

James Newman, Robert H. Belson and Fabián E. Bustamante
To appear in Proc. of Hotmobile, February 2019.
Northwestern University

CS Department
Northwestern University
Evanston, IL 60208, USA
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We present an approach to improve users’ web experience by dynamically reducing the complexity of websites rendered based on network conditions. Our approach is based on a simple insight – adjusting a browser window’s scale (i.e., zooming in/out), changes the number of objects placed abovethe-fold and thus hides the loading of objects pushed below the fold in the user scroll time. We design ScaleUp , a browser extension that tracks network conditions and dynamically adjusts browser scale appropriately to improve user web Quality of Experience (QoE) while preserving the design integrity of websites. Through control experiments, we demonstrate the impact of ScaleUp on a number of key QoE metrics over a random sample of 50 from the top 500 Alexa websites. We show that a simple adjustment in scale can result in an over 19% improvement on Above-The-Fold (ATF) time in the median case. While adjusting a scale factor can improve proxy metrics of QoE, it is unclear if that translates in an improved web experience for users. We summarize findings from a large, crowdsourced experiment with 1,000 users showing that, indeed, improvement to QoE metrics correlate with an enhanced user experience. We have released ScaleUp as a Chrome Extension that now counts with over 1,000 users worldwide, and report on some of the lessons learned from this deployment.