A most important rule that every web designer should follow is to create a fast loading website. You might have a great design but very few people are going to see it if it takes a long time to load. While designing a website always think about how long it will take to load. Try out our tips to build a great looking website that also loads fast.
Minimize the use of images – The key to a fast loading web site is to minimize the use of images. Images do enhance a page but don’t make 80% of your web site only images. Instead break it down as much as possible to simple HTML. Notice the popular sites like Yahoo, Google, Ebay, Amazon etc., they have very few images because the load time is more important. Very often simple designs are the best.
Optimize images for web pages – Once you have decided on the images that you need on your site, make sure that it is optimized for the web. They should be in the gif or jpeg format. You can also minimize the size of the image by choosing the number of colors you need, from the color palette. The less the colors you choose, the less the size of the image. You can also use online tools like Gif Wizard to optimize your images or to get a recommendation on how to cut down the size of an image.
Use Tables creatively – You can get some great looking designs by using tables creatively. Tables load very fast because it is just HTML code. Tables can be used in the homepage, menus or anywhere you like. Check out our homepage and our menus to see how we have used tables in our site.
Avoid using animated gifs – Don’t use animated gifs unless it is necessary. Animated gifs take a long time to load and can also be very irritating. But since they catch your attention you could use small animated gifs to draw a visitor’s attention to a particular section of your site.
Design simple icons – Instead of using big, bulky images use simple and small icons that add a little color and draw the attention of a visitor. We have used small icons in our homepage highlight the main sections of our site.
Try out background images instead of big images whenever possible – Use background images whenever possible. This is usually a very useful tip for headers and footers. Instead of using an image of width 580 which is a uniform design you can use just a part of that as a background fill. This reduces the size of the web page as the image is small. The code will look like this :
<tr background=”images/backgroud.gif” width=”100%”>
Use CSS Styles – Have fun with CSS styles to get some cool text effects. Again, a CSS Style is simple HTML code so it loads very fast. You can create cool rollovers using CSS Styles. You can rollover the text on the links on left side menu to see how I have used CSS Styles to get a simple but nice text effect.
Use Flash carefully – There seems to be a lot of hype about Flash but I recommend that you minimize the use of Flash on a site. Don’t make entire sites using Flash. It may look great but it takes hours to load and can really put off visitors. If you do want to use Flash use it within an HTML site and make sure it loads fast.
Design by just using HTML – As much as possible try to design your site using HTML. You can create great designs by just using HTML code. Use tables, CSS Styles and simple fonts to design your site. Minimize the use of animated gifs, Flash, bulky images etc.
Keep checking your page load time – Last but not least, before you decide on the final design of your website; check its load time on NetMechanic. This site gives you a free analysis of your web site which is extremely useful. We kept using it to improve our site till we got a report that said good loading time!
I learnt these tips while building websites and applications. I’ve enjoyed sharing them with you and hope that you found them useful.