So you’ve just created the coolest web site on the Net, with the latest development tools, amazing animated images, and it loads in just under 5 seconds with your brand new T3 connection. You’ve just messed up big time.
No matter how pretty your web site is, it won’t do any good if it doesn’t load quickly. Let me throw some figures out there: Yahoo loads in only about 6 seconds on a 28k modem; and incidentally it’s one of the most successful sites, ever. Try timing your own page on a slow (actually, most people still use a 56k) connection and compare the results. Most of your visitors will leave if your page doesn’t load within 15 seconds.
Now that you’ve been scared into load time paranoia, let me offer some tips on trimming the fat on your site.
1. Optimize your images.
This is very important, especially for pictures and mouseovers. You can usually compress the file to half its original size, and still maintain much of its original quality.
2. Optimize your coding.
Clean up your HTML. Remove extra spaces, lines, and comments, without sacrificing readability. Your code’s appearance is important, but removing unnecessary characters can really help your load time.
3. Convert images to text and tables.
If you can, it is always a good idea to change your heavy images into HTML tables and text. This will make quite a difference, and will reduce the load on your server.
4. Only link to images on your server.
It is usually a good idea to only include images which reside on your server. It also helps to use relative paths (i.e., /images/image.gif) as opposed to absolute paths (https://www.murdok.org/images/64cb503e8c3b2gif).
5. Use the height=”” and width=”” attributes on your images.
This will make your content readable and your layout clear, even before the entire page has loaded. It also helps to use the alt=”” attribute.
6. Preload your images.
If you use image mouseovers, this is a must. Image preloader scripts will load your images into the user’s browser’s cache, so there is no lag time when the images are called.
That pretty much covers what’s needed to make your site stand out above the others. Remember to pay attention to your content, too. Not only is there physical load time, but there’s also mental load time. Make sure your text, especially the introductory paragraph, is easy to read and not too lengthy. Keep it non-technical, simple, and don’t use a bunch of capital letters or exclamation points!
If your web site is quick-loading and the content is mentally easy to read, you’ve brewed yourself a winning site.
Joey Mornin is the owner of The Script Library Visit http://www.scriptlib.com for web site help