Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Web Page Optimization

Web Page Optimization

We all want to have the most attractive website that leaves a visitor wide-eyed and completely dazzled. Usually an extremely attractive website design involves lots of graphical elements, increasing the overall page size which causes the page to download slowly to the browser. This article will provide some useful tips on how to keep your website design attractive but still downloads quickly.

As the average internet bandwidth rate per computer is raising, more and more webmasters allow themselves to develop complex websites laden with heavy graphic elements. In extreme cases you can find websites that take as much as a few minutes to load their content in your browser. Of course the user will never wait that long for a website to load, and will move on to the next website in his search results.

So why are webmasters still developing slow loading bloated websites? Primarily due to a lack of knowledge of simple graphic optimization techniques that will allow them to maintain an attractive website while keeping the page size smaller.

How many of you are aware of the fact that a box with rounded corners can be achieved using CSS code only, without the need for any graphic image. Well it is possible! Before those of you familiar with CSS say that it cannot be done for every type of browser and a relatively high level of programming is required, I say that dealing with the most common mistakes web designers make regarding optimization can have simple solutions.

Never limit the web designer by placing any restrictions that impact the final outcome. You might make the claim that what a web designer can do with graphic software is impossible to implement by code. I disagree. When the design is finished and you are ready to slice it into small images to be used in the html code, your creativity is been tested. Everything you do at this stage will affect the total page size. If your design contains rounded shapes that overlap each other or areas with color gradients, then you must slice it carefully so the outcome is a small file size.

Let’s look at what efficient slicing means:
Do not make large slices that contain lots of different colors. Use a small number of slices where each slice contains a limited number of colors.
Do not make a large slice that contains the same graphic structure. Slice a small portion of it and duplicate it in your code. This is a very common mistake that webmasters/programmers make when dealing with gradient color background.
Do not use JPEG file format all the time. In some cases a GIF format will be much smaller in size. A rule of thumb – a slice with high number of colors will be smaller in size using the JPEG format rather than the GIF format, and the opposite is also true. Check each option separately. Every 1KB that you reduce from the image file size will eventually add up to a significant reduction in page size.
If you have text on a solid color background, do not slice it at all. Use code to create the background instead. Remember that you can define both the font style and background color of the area using CSS.

Advanced Techniques

Graphically optimizing a website is more than just knowing how to do image optimizations. There are some advanced techniques that required a high level of programming. CSS2 has much more to offer then CSS does. Although not all browsers have adopted this standard yet you should be ready for when they do. JavaScript also gives you a set of options to create some cool effects without needing to overload the page with Flash. Using limited tools like JavaScript compared to an advanced application like Flash to create the desired effects can be difficult. However think about the outcome. For a onetime effort you can differentiate your website from others. You will have an attractive professional looking website that loads quickly.

Back to the Future

As PDAs, smart mobile phones and mini laptops are used with wireless internet connections for internet browsing, publishing fast loading web pages will enhance the browsing experience not only for those using wide bandwidth connections but also will make the browsing experience user friendly (or may I say, bandwidth friendly) to the wireless clients.

For those who insist that web design optimization is not necessary because everyone will have high bandwidth connections eventually, I agree up to a point. However, the software companies are creating applications that use more bandwidth because they know it is available for them to use. Get used to writing well optimized web pages because this cat and mouse game will never end, and it is better to learn the rules of the game then it is to be bitten.

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