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Don't Make Them Wait

By Scott Pamatat
Posted Friday, February 6, 2004

I have noticed that many web sites are trying to portray themselves as if they were a TV network. They put top-notch graphics and sound into their web page. What these companies are missing is that their visitors are not watching TV. This works fine for those with broadband high speed connections. The fact is, most are viewing your web site on a screen that is between 15 and 19 inches wide, can only see 216 colors, and can only download at 28.8 kb per second.

What does all this mean?

You as a web site owner, designer, CEO, or any one who has control over a web site should follow a simple rule. Are you ready? Here is the rule: make sure you are on a 28.8 connection; type in the URL for your web page; hit enter, and hold your breath. If you needed to gasp for air before the page was fully down loaded you really need to cut down on the size of the page. I'm sure some of you can hold your breath for a long time. So I will give you all a suggestion that your web page should be no larger then 50K. I would shoot for less than 30K. The number one visited web site home page is under 21k. That's right, Yahoo's home page is only 20k. This might seem like very little but you really can do a lot within that size.

How can I get it under 50K? 30K?

First, all your graphic images should be as small as possible. Try to get them smaller than 4k. Going up to 6k is reasonable. When designing a graphic for the web site keep in mind the number of colors being used. I know, as a graphic designer, it was hard for me to go from millions of color to only 216. Yes, 216 is the number of colors you have on a web safe color pallet. Use solid colors when designing your image. PhotoShop has made the gradient such a popular tool. It looks good to fade things in and out. I always see a background border made up of this gradient. I always right click on that image to see the size. The 8k-12k is not worth the space. The problem with the gradient is it uses many colors and dithering. Both take up big time K. The more color you have in an image the bigger it's going to be.

Use design more, graphics less. For a web page to be successful it needs to download quickly and look good. Here is the dilemma download quick or look good? Instead of designing graphics and taking pictures and turning them into jpgs to make your web page look good, try using color schemes. Use cell colors to make boarders. Use the negative space on your web site. What is not there is just as important as what is there. Remember sometimes less is more. When in doubt think of a typical visitor coming to your web page. Would that extra graphic sell them or keep them coming back again and again. If the answer is yes, by all means keep it. If the answer is "well maybe" or "it just looks good there", yank it. Viewers will appreciate not waiting more then they have to. The web is here to make our life easier not to sit in front of a screen waiting for heavy web pages to download.


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