Four C's of Quicker Load Time
By Kimberly Bodane
Studies have shown that regardless of how great your content may be, you have approximately 8 seconds for your page to load, before a majority of viewers will opt to hit the road. This means you could have a truly content rich, graphically pleasing source of entertainment - but if you can't match it with acceptable load times, it won't matter in many cases.
The trick is to not necessarily ditch your images, but rather to optimize them. Then it is just a matter of sharpening and polishing the coding for your content.
Crop & Resize - When trying to post a picture, remember what you're attempting to display, and have that be the focal point of your image. There is no need to take a picture of your cat, and include the entire living room with it. Cropping will make it so the focal point of your image is not only more readily noticeable to your viewers, but working for you in terms of saving space and bandwidth on your page. Same goes for resizing. Nobody needs to see a photo of a birthday cake that is 400 pixels high by 600 pixels wide when a 200x200 will suffice just fine, and probably look just as nice.
Compress, Compress, Compress - This is one of the easiest, most important tasks a webmaster can do. This is something you'll want to be sure and do after you've got your image to an acceptable size, but it will really make a huge difference in load times, especially if you have multiple images on a given page. Compressing an image simply means reducing the image's bandwidth load by reducing enough bytes to where it is unnoticeable to the human eye, but allows the image to load much faster on the browser.
There are several good online sites to use compression, cropping and resizing tools, if you're not already familiar with the compression tool readily available in most image design software like Paint Shop Pro and Adobe Photoshop.
Control Parameters - This means, make sure you define width and height attributes for your images and tables. Don't let the browser decide, guess, or waste time trying to figure it out. Setting guidelines to tell it just how wide and high your image should be, will help tremendously with load times. Always use uniform attributes (ie. width="300" height="400" border="1" alt="Birthday Cake") and don't forget to surround the variables with quotations. This way a browser will know in advance how much space is required for a given image, and be able to move onto the next line of code instead of waiting for the entire image to load in order to find this information out.
Cutting Down Table Size - Having smaller sized tables is yet another aspect which can ultimately help your load times without changing the outward appearance of your website. Because the content of your table will not finish loading until the closing tag is read, it is often advantageous to make several smaller tables that can be quickly read, rather than having to wait for rows upon rows to be read and processed.
Calibrate Coding - The second thing after optimizing your images, is that you must be sure to check your web site's coding. Sloppy HTML with hanging tags, and non-uniform attributes all contribute to longer amounts of time your visitors will have to wait for their browser to figure out what you meant for it to do. Browsers are often forgiving, but that doesn't mean it doesn't take them more time to read your mind, so to speak. Be absolutely sure to check and make sure your coding is spell checked, and flowing in the most helpful way possible to visiting browsers. Failure to proofread your HTML only makes for more broken links, non-loading images (what is img src?), and slower load time in general. Again, there are several online tools that will analyze your HTML and give you tips on what needs attention.
Remember, 8 seconds is your window - Utilize these tools to make the most of it. For the sake of not only your bandwidth, but your visitors' time!
About the Author
Learn the tips, tricks and tactics used by Internet marketing professionals to obtain a high raking web site.
Kimberly Bodane - http://www.helpmyhits.com
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