I’m sure, somewhere, there’s an audible gasp from my audience. How DARE he question minification! I question it because no one else will. Let’s look at a site I recently launched, Shady Oak Barbeque. This site’s entire CSS stack is, unminified, 175kb in size. Unminified, the CSS is human-readable and human-maintainable. There’s no need for pre or post-processors on the site environment or my working environment. Making any addition would require just a text-editor and FTP access.
Minifying the site’s CSS, and thus adding the need for more tools for maintenance, and making the CSS un-human-readable will save me a grand total of….. 417 bytes. 417 bytes? Wow, that’s anti-climatic. The very first computer available on the consumer market, the Altair 8800, which had no screen, no keyboard, and a series of switches on the front, shipped with 256 bytes, just to give you a perspective of how little minification can save your site size in loading. I could let you know how many 10ths of a millisecond that 417 bytes could load, but I think that would be giving more thought to the math than the math requires.
I’ve always called Minification “Spending Dollars to Save Pennies”, and I think this example is a great way to illustrate that. Why overload your environments with bulky pre and post-processors to handle minification when the grand total of savings average less than a kilobyte? Honestly, better image compression practices and GZip compression in your htaccess file gives you better, more obvious returns than minification.