Thursday, February 29, 2024

Designing Pages That Download Fast

Unless you have access to a T1 connection, you probably have been frustrated at one time or another by sites that seem to take forever to download.

As a site designer, you should make a quick download time high on your list of priorities. No matter how great your page is, if people click away because they give up on waiting for it to finish downloading, you’ve wasted your time.

The following are a few tips to help speed your download time:

Get Rid of Superfluous Images
Most of the time, a certain amount of graphic images are necessary to enhance a site’s aesthetic appeal. What you want to avoid are images that don’t add anything to the page (except extra seconds on the download time).

Ask yourself if the animated GIF of the badger wearing sunglasses and doing the Moonwalk really contributes anything of value to your page. Better yet, ask yourself before you include it (and subject the rest of us to it).

Reduce the Size
I’m talking about 1) physical size and 2) file (or disk space) size here. The smaller the image is in terms of HEIGHT and WIDTH (dimensions) as well as bytes (file size), the quicker it will download.

You can only do so much, however, with the HEIGHT and WIDTH; after all, you don’t want your viewers to have to use a magnifying glass to locate your images.

Once you’ve got the physical size to the smallest acceptable dimensions, it’s time to try to reduce the image size even more in terms of file size.

Reducing the color depth usually makes for a smaller file size. If you can go from 16 bit to 256 colors without destroying your image quality, that should reduce the file size substantially.

You might be able to decrease it even more; try one of the compression utilities online. NetMechanic is a good one and it’s free. http://www.netmechanic.com>.

Use HEIGHT and WIDTH
Using the HEIGHT and WIDTH attributes of the IMG tag can help your page load faster on some browsers. A “placeholder”, more or less, in which the image will appear is positioned in the appropriate area and text is formatted around this placeholder while the image loads.

Divide Your Content Among Several Pages
Instead of developing one huge, long page, try splitting the content up over several smaller pages. This will make it easier for your visitors to read and will make the individual pages download more quickly.

Reuse Images
Reusing images such as the same background and navigation buttons on different areas of your site can boost the speed at which pages are downloaded.

All other things being equal, if a browser can use a previously cached copy of an image, as opposed to downloading a new image, the page should load more quickly.

Reusing images also provides a consistent look throughout your site which I feel is important.

Restrict Use of Text Graphics
Where possible, use formatted text in place of a text graphic. If the only thing you want to do is change the size or color of the text, consider using B, FONT COLOR=, FONT SIZE=, or H tags.

Let Your Visitors Choose
If you have an item you think would interest many of your visitors – like a rather large photo, sound file, etc. – provide the option of accessing it. Something along the lines of, “To view a photo of blah, blah, blah, follow this link”.

Your visitors that don’t want to view or hear the file will be grateful.

I hope you’ve learned at least one or two new ways to create pages that download quickly!

William Richard has been designing Websites for over 6 years and has used his knowledge to create a HTML reference center for everyone’s skill level. For information or HTML help contact: by email at wrichard@htmlstyle.com or visit http://www.htmlstyle.com

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