Rule number 1 in web design folklore, is to keep a website fast loading. It is no secret that websites lose their audiences by slow download times, and this is, as we all know, bad news. You, as a web designer, have a duty to keep websites loading as fast as possible. This keeps your customers happy, and your customers audiences happy. So, how is that achieved?
Images, make web pages load more slowly. So minimise there use. Try and make the site as HTML orientated as possible, as this will download much faster than imagery. The big hitters such as Amazon and Ebay, use HTML as much as possible to keep download times fast.
It is possible to optimise images to make them more web friendly. By selecting colors from the color palette, will ensure that images that you use will download that bit faster. Another way to optimise the images, is to ensure they are in jpeg or gif format.
The same rules applies to the use of Flash. It is great at what it does, but only use Flash, if you have to. If you do incorporate Flash into your site, make sure that you still have a fast loading website.
CSS is your friend. Clever text can be created when using this tool, and as it is mostly HTML, it downloads nice and quick. Do not be afraid to experiment with CSS styles. It can work wonders.
As a web designer, you probably love the creative process behind your work. It is possible to use tables, to provide good layouts. They can be used anywhere, and can be the framework behind a great website.
It is a good idea to keep images simple, small, and eye catching, rather than huge, and overpowering. It goes without saying, that a smaller image loads faster.
Animated GIFS are eye catching, and can draw an audience to a certain area of a site. They do slow down download times though, so use sparingly if you have to use them at all.
It is a good idea to use background images especially when designing elements such as headers and footers, as it is possible to reduce the width of an image from the uniform 580, and use only part of it as a background fill. The coding will appear as thus:
<tr background=”/images/header_backgroud.gif” width=”100%”>.
This ensures much better results than using big, bulky images.
Use sites and software, to check the loading time of your site. Do it when you incorporate something new, especially if it is Flash or animated GIF based. The object, obviously, is to ensure a faster loading website.
As you have probably deduced, the key to keeping download speeds fast is to design sites that are largely HTML based, and minimise the use of images. CSS styles and tables, can be used to good effects, to allow your creative juices to flow, and make stunning websites.
Flash and animated GIFS are fun to use, and can look fantastic, but remember these will slow down the loading times of your site. Use them only when you really have to.
Images can be tailored to make them more web friendly, and this should be done as a matter of course.
If a site is slow to download, it will drive its intended audience away. Remember that in the commercial world, there is no such thing as a unique website, and people have plenty of choice. The competitor is but one click away. A faster loading website can make all the difference to a consumer.