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Quick you only have 30 seconds....

Someone found a link to your site and clicked on it, quick, you have 30 seconds to gain their interest - MAX! If they don't find something of interest quickly, you've lost them. Web surfers are in general an impatient lot. If the page takes too long to load - CLICK - they're out of there!

Simplicity is difficult! On a 56K dialup modem a page between 140K and 200K takes 20 to 30 seconds to download. Images, music, banners, etc. increase download times and can make navigation difficult or confusing. What can you do to get your page to load quickly? KISS - Keep It Simple Silly

Don't use music! - Unless your site is actually designed to appeal to be all about music resist the temptation to provide sound on your site just because you can. If you are going to provide music do so as a clickable link. Not built in as background music. It increases download time and someone working in an office certainly does not want music blaring out unexpectedly!

Use Graphics Carefully - Keep graphic file sizes small for speed of download. Preferably no more than 25k per image and 125K per page. Software is available to help you reduce graphic file sizes. If you use thumbnails to link to larger images actually reduce the thumbnail image size. DO NOT simply use the height and width parameters in the image tag to reduce the displayed size.

Focus on Content - Content is king. It must be meaningful to your target audience. It must be up to date. It must be interesting. Don't just take content from your brochures or other company literature and try to replicate it on your web site. This can lead to page bloat. The Web is a different medium and visitors view it differently. Think about the message you want to convey and how to convey it in a medium where content must be sparse but full of impact.

Re-use Images - Use the same images throughout your site. Navigations buttons, logos, etc that are used throughout your site should be stored in a common directory and always loaded from there. Once an image is downloaded it will be served to the page being rendered from cache on the viewers computer (instantly) without having to be downloaded again.

Use image types appropriately - Use GIF images for buttons, logos, etc wherever there are large areas of the same color. Use JPG format for photos. Invest in software that will allow you to adjust the compression level of a JPG image. Compress it to the point where image degradation just begins to show and then back off a little before saving. Always do your editing on a copy of your image and save the original in a safe place.

Large Images - If you have to use an large image you can make it appear to load faster by chopping it into a series of smaller images. Image Dicer is free (http://www.ziplink.net/~shoestring/dicer01.htm) and it works great.

Spread Them Out - If you have lots of photos to show, do it over multiple pages. While the first page is being viewed you can actually have the next pages image preload to cache so that it will display instantly. A free JavaScript for doing the preload is available here: http://javascript.internet.com/miscellaneous/preload-images.html


About the Author

Jean-Pierre "PETE" LeClair
President, The AgentZ
Everything from A to Z @ the AgentZ

Cost Effective Web Site Design and Hosting for Small Businesses and Individuals
The AgentZ has been offering cost effective website design and hosting since 1994

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