We need to talk about taste on the Web. There has been a lot of talk about nutrition, and making sure that you have all of the tools you need to understand the nutritional content of your website, which we call Web Vitals.
Web Vitals numbers are certainly vital, but they don’t tell the full tale, just as a nutrition labels don’t tell the full story of the meal that a customer will consume.
These two extremes on the spectrum do not result in an appealing Web at all:
- The Web is fast (nutritious), but bland.
- The Web is tasty, but makes everyone sick.
I am excited about a fun, vibrant web that manages to offer a plethora of tastes, but takes users health seriously, too. I think that we have seen a Web that is fun and creative. Some of us even miss corners of the Web that were possible due to the ingredients of Flash and its editor tools. We don’t want a Web that is as bland as the constraints of some social networks (MySpace certainly had some crazy fun though! 🤪)
A tortured analogy of my health journey
I have had quite a journey with my health. I thought I had cracked it, but have continued to learn a lot more, especially with access to smart tools that give me access to data. For example, I use a continuous glucose monitor that tells me roughly how much glucose is in my system. This is like running Lighthouse CI for human vitals, and frees me to run experiments on my body.
I have been able to test the effects of almond flour (doesn’t spike me, whereas regular flour does), or replacing sugar with allulose (also doesn’t spike me), or how exercise (even a brisk 10-20 minute walk) right after eating brings down the post meal glucose.
I can use many other tools to take other vital measurements, such as tracking if I am in ketosis or not via a breath monitor, tracking my heart rate variability (HRV) when sleeping with an Oura, and with integrations that bring together all of the data via Levels.
Continuous measurement is key
I made some lifestyle choices, and the first one was to measure. If you aren’t tracking the health of your body or your website, you are destined for drift…. and trust me it can start slow and then you wake up having a large hill to climb again. I recently had to jump back and have lost 60 pounds with 10 more to go to reach my goal BMI (NOTE: BMI and weight aren’t great measurements, and I look at my blood work as the gold standard, but they are helpful proxies to progress).
Enjoy and live life!
I grew up seeing the Jane Fonda aerobics era, and seeing many people in my circle basically starving themselves and eating rice cakes that tasted like cardboard. This isn’t sustainable, so it doesn’t work, and it’s a really tough way to live. Crash diets don’t work in the long run, so you have to make a choice on what you want your long term sustainable lifestyle to be.
I want to enjoy food. I want to enjoy the taste of food. If I am hungry all the time this is the sign that there is a bug in the system. This all lead me down the path of acknowledging that I fatten easily, and carbs don’t work with my body. They flip a switch that has me go into fat storage mode, and also put me in hungry mode all the time. I can’t have one chip….. I scoff the entire bag. Moderation doesn’t work for me. I had to own it.
Gary Taubes helped educate here many years ago with his books on Good Calories, Bad Calories, and he has a new one that hit home once again: The Case For Keto.
I am going to enjoy food, but use a well-lit path that helps me do that, and keeping out of a restrictive world of how much I can eat. I want to eat to satiety. This puts other constraints on me…. I can’t eat certain carb-heavy foods that I love. But then I remember that I CAN enjoy certain berries with heavy whipping cream. Not too shabby!
Once in mostly-ketosis, I am never hungry. This has enabled me to test out tactics such as time restrictive fasting (TRF). Keeping to 16:8 is simple, and I have also enjoyed simply one meal a day. I also kicked things into gear by taking on some prolonged fasting (3 to 4 day fasts) and was amazed with how, other than boredom, it wasn’t hard to do…. but it would be impossible for me to have done this in carb mode.
I mentioned almond flour earlier. Since I am tracking everything, it allows me the freedom to experiment and find the balance of: something enjoyable and tasty that contains the right nutritional profile. The Almond flour crepes and scones that I have had this weekend aren’t THE most yummy I have ever had, I will admit that, but they WERE enjoyable. That’s the bar for me…. get me 80% there. If the result isn’t enjoyable then why eat it? It’s off the list and I am on to the next experiment.
Back to the Tasty, Nutritious Web
Let’s bring this back to the Web 😅. I know that it sometimes feels like we are always talking about nutrition, and shoving the label in front of your faces. I apologize if it comes across like this at times.
What I ask of you is to consider the balance of taste and nutrition. You are the chefs of your experience, and you should feel the creativity of making amazing meals that acknowledge users needs the hidden costs.
- Do work in a worker thread that isn’t as expensive for the UI (allulose bypasses the liver!)
- Start fast (maybe server side render the initial payload), Stay Fast (using service workers and loading)
Constraints are always part of the creative process.
Now, what about the role of the Web Platform? We want to make our PLATFORM tasty and nutritious for you the developer! What does that look like?
- Give you new ingredients that are performant, and you can wield in new ways (e.g. new declarative primitives such as constraint layout, various worklets)
- Have some of the ingredients be low level (primitives) so you can put them together in new and interesting ways, but ALSO offer higher level ingredients (components) so it doesn’t feel like we are handing you a cow and saying “make a meal from that starting point… THANKS!”
This is where I am very interested in engaging as the broad and diverse web community that we are. We have a general purpose platform, but we have room in zooming in and delivering purpose-built solutions. You don’t need the same ingredients and tools to build a blog as you do building a rich productivity platform…. or a commerce experience…. or a game.
We have a broad tent on the Web… or maybe a broad kitchen. I am excited to see the tasty meals you build for users, and learn how you made them.
Have you seen or built something tasty recently? If so, please let me know… we want to highlight it!