Who's the fattest site of them all?

According to the latest survey, the sites most likely to clog your connection are JC Penney.com, Spiegel.com, and VictoriasSecret.com.

The Web has a weight problem.

Web sites have been on a forced diet for a year, at least, trying to knock off those extra bytes created by flashy Flash files, gargantuan gifs or the rotund rollover.

But new data from Byte Level Research suggests the median weight, determined by the number of kilobytes (KB) of data on a homepage, is still nearly twice what a lean, mean Web site should be.

The median weight now sits at 89KB. While its down from the years of 100KB gorgings, its still not even close to the optimum 60KB, according to Byte Level Research's John Yunker.

Jupiter (jptr) has an even trimmer Web in mind. Researchers there think home pages need to be as low as 40KB to be healthy.

Web masters take heed. More weight means more waiting to download. Zona Research, which penned the 8-second download rule, believes businesses lose about $362 million per month because customers won't wait.

Yunker uses Yahoo!'s relatively puny 37KB and Lycos' 30KB as the benchmark that sites should compare themselves with.

These are two successful sites with a combined 84 million unique visitors a month. Users expect the same download speeds at any other site, regardless of whether they are graphic's heavy catalog sites like JC Penney, which is 10 times the girth of Yahoo! (yhoo), he said.

"If you are going to create a heavy, slow site, you better make it payoff," he said. "When companies develop a Web site, everyone wants to squeeze as much on that page as they can. It's good to have some limits."

Other Web weight watchers agree with Yunker's findings.

"What we find is users are less tolerant to the foibles of Web makers," said Kelly Rupp of WebCriteria, a veritable health club for Web pages.

The heaviest of the 150 sites surveyed was JC Penney, with 451KB. The chubby bubby was more than twice the weight of the second heaviest contender, Spiegel, which weighed in at 216KB.

Scantly-clad Victoria's Secret models parade on the third fattest site, which weighed in at 173KB.

Yunker found that the lightest Web pages as a group were online brokers, which averaged 54KB. AmeriTrade, with its fit and trim 14KB, lead all others in the category.

Search engines were a surprising second, averaging about 57KB. Google, and its anorexic 12KB, was the lightest Web site looked at.

The study found that sites in similar business categories have nearly the same weights. Toy sites varied by no more than 15KB, while two pet sites differed by only 2KB.

But there were clear leaders in each category. FatBrain defied its name in the book/CD/entertainment category, coming in with a rather airy 64KB, the lightest among its overweight combatants.

Beyond.com (bynd) was beyond its own fat competitors hawking electronics, computer and software, the study found.

Target hit the mark in the retail category, leading with 56KB. It was half the weight of the category bottom feeder, Bluelight, which is KMart's Web site.


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