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Web Page Speed Critical

by Ron Kurtus (revised 19 September 2008)

The time it takes for your web page to render or display is critical in whether or not a person will stay to view the page. Many users do not have the patience to wait very long, especially if they are not certain of the quality of your content.

>>> It seems that many news and information websites have so many ads and videos that ...

Although a Web page with colorful graphics and interesting special effects are appealing and often look professional, most viewers and Web surfers want to see a page as quick as possible. There is a limit to a person's patience when waiting for a page to load. It is not as much of a problem for those with a broadband or high-speed connection, but there are still many without such connections. It is important to optimize your page for rapid viewing, while still keeping the eye appeal.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.



Reasons

  1. Large HTML file size
  2. Too many images
  3. Images are too large
  4. Content within tables, especially nested tables
  5. Too many HTTP requests
  6. Large media files
  7. Slow or overloaded server
  8. Microsoft Internet Explorer

Slow download loses customers

An effective tool for business success is to have a company Web site. Three goals that many businesses have for maintaining a Web presence are:

  1. To give a positive opinion of the business in the mind of the viewer,
  2. To make sure the viewer looks at the pertinent information on the Web site,
  3. To get the user to either come back to the site, to contact the business, or to contact a sales representative.

One of the biggest mistakes that many businesses make in designing their Web sites is to give them so much eye-appeal and to provide so many of the latest Web effects that the site takes forever to download.

The lesson here is: Don't make your site so fancy that you lose potential customers because it takes too long to download.

Large graphics files

Large graphics files take too long to download and thus discourage viewers.

Certainly a page with striking graphics can attract attention and be appealing to the eye. but you must remember that the Web is not the same as a slick magazine. It takes a long time to download large graphics files, even with a fast modem. Many people do not have the patience to wait and will move on to someplace else.

Solutions to this problem are to:

Minimize colors

One way to reduce the size of your GIF files is to reduce the colors you are using. You may not need 256 color and can get by with 16. If it is a black and white picture, try going with 2 colors.

Reducing the number colors can greatly reduce the size you your image file and speed up its download.

Use thumbnails

Instead of requiring the download of a large JPEG photograph, you can use a small thumbnail of the picture. Let the user choose to see the full photo if he or she wishes.

This also allows you to give the user a choice of many pictures to view.

Break up large image

Another way to display a large image is to break it into several smaller images and have them tiled together in a table that has no padding or borders. This is a commonly used method.

You still must not get carried away by having too large of a graphic or too many pieces to assemble. It still takes time to download.

Other large files

There are other files that take too long to download, such as sound, video and Java files, as well as files related to plug-ins.

With new streaming technologies, the time it takes some sound and plug-in related files has been greatly reduced. Another danger, though, is that the potential customer may not even be able to use those features

Summary

You should be aware that load download times turns off your audience. Try to minimize the use and reduce the size of the associated files you include with your Web page. Ask yourself, "Would I wait this long for such a Web page?"


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Resources and references

Ron Kurtus' Credentials

Websites

Web Design Resources

Books

Top-rated books on Website Design


Questions and comments

Do you have any questions, comments, or opinions on this subject? If so, send an email with your feedback. I will try to get back to you as soon as possible.


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page_speed_critical.htm

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