Is Your Site Too Slow? Why Image Optimization Is Critical

Graphics are fun, but if you put in too many bells and whistles when you create your web site, you may lose a potential audience whose Internet connection can't handle lots of graphics, and that means you'll be losing potential customers.

According to UK website experts Boommm.com, one of the major concerns in website graphical development is what the results will look like on different browsers, platforms and screen sizes.

Efuse.com writer Toni Will-Harris, a website graphics expert, offers nine steps to help you control the graphics on your website:

1 - Keep graphics files small (under 20K) and graphics for navigation under 10K. Your graphics should be saved at a resolution no greater than 96 dpi. Here's how to decide which format to choose:

> If your graphics have many colors, save them as JPG files. > If your graphics have few colors, choose GIF. > When using GIF, try optimized palettes that contain only the colors used because they can cut file sizes in half.

2 - Keep text files small (less than 10K). They should be broken into logical chunks and linked.

3 - Design for easy reading. Make your backgrounds as light as possible. If you use a background image, keep the action on the side, out of the way of the text. Put navigation on the left side of the screen because it's practical and allows you to reserve part of the screen (usually between 150 and 200 pixels) for navigation and identity.

4 - Design for 256 colors (8-bit) and 640x480 resolution.

5 - Use ALT tags on graphics. If you're using a graphic in place of a paragraph or more of text, type the same text into the ALT box because even long blocks of text will appear in the browser so people can read it before the graphic downloads.

6 - Include contact information on every page, including your company name, address, email address, and phone and fax numbers. Every page should have the site's main URL included.

7 - Keep your site fresh. Be prepared to update your site at least once a month, adding new information and discarding anything out-of-date. You want repeat visitors, so give them something to come back for.

8- Be generous. The more detail you provide, the more of a service you offer, and the more reason you give people to visit your site.

9 - Test your site as visitors will see it. Connect to it at 14.4 and 28.8 to see how fast it really is. View your site at several resolutions and color depths, and on several browsers.

Herb and Monica Leibacher operate Web Builder Express. Create a professional web site for your business or non-profit organization with Web Builder Express. At http://www.WebBuilderExpress.com, you can request your free Quick Start Guide that tells you how to create a great web site.

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