📝 CSS-Tricks 236: Initialisms and Layout Shifts

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[Robin]: “Unnecessary initialisms are exclusionary” writes Jeremy Keith in this particularly excellent blog post about performance, web design, and how initials for terms such as CLS make thing much more difficult for everyone to understand:

I feel sorry for anyone trying to get into the field of web performance. Not only are there complex browser behaviours to understand, there’s also a veritable alphabet soup of initialisms to memorise. Here’s a really good post on web performance by Harry, but notice how the initialisms multiply like tribbles as the post progresses until we’re talking about using CWV metrics like LCP, FID, and CLS—alongside TTFB and SI—to look at PLPs, PDPs, and SRPs. And fair play to Harry; he expands each initialism the first time he introduces it.

But are we really saving any time by saying FID instead of first input delay? I suspect that the only reason why the word “cumulative” precedes “layout shift” is just to make it into the three-letter initialism CLS.

I think initialisms make things easier for the writer to type out but makes things way more difficult for readers. And I hadn’t really thought about this until the other day when I tried to remember what the Core Web Vital CLS and FID stood for. And yet I’ve probably read somewhere in the region of ten billion blog posts about this stuff.

Cumulative Layout Shift and First Input Delay. Ugh.

Lately I’ve also noticed how UIs are starting to throw these web perf metrics around the place with initialisms alone and with no further explanation. This is sort of funny since ideally the whole point of web performance is all about access—making sure that everyone can view a website without having to jump through unnecessary hurdles.

This isn’t just about performance though; initialisms creep into our work from all sorts of directions. And I think that, like Jeremy, from here on out I’m going to be a bit of a jerk about things and push folks to stop speaking in riddles. Because if we really care about performance and making sure the web is for everyone then we need to ensure the words we use to describe our work aren’t masked in complexity, too.

<End of Rant />

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