Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Importance of Fast Loading Web Pages

Usability studies have shown that visitors are willing to wait for about 10 seconds for a page to load before moving on. If your web page takes too long to load, you may consider redesigning it. Making the page load faster will increase the number of visitors that hang around and explore your site.

Despite the ready availability of broadband, high-speed connections still only make up about 60% of Internet connections. Not everyone has a cable modem, a T1, or DSL connection. The truth is that there are still a large number of surfers with modems of 56k.

Here are a few things you can do to make your pages load faster:

Consider taking out any embedded multimedia (background song, videos etc.) unless absolutely necessary. Yes, they might create a great effect, but if your visitors get impatient and leave, then the whole purpose is lost. Beside, most people don't want to be serenaded by the Andy Griffith theme while surfing your site.

Optimize images. You can do this with most image editing software. You can also save loading time by re-using images between pages (these will be on the browser's cache and will load much faster).

Preload images. If you have a few large images throughout your site, you can put it on the home page at the bottom of the page by simply adjusting the width and height to 1. This will make is seem to be no larger than a dot, even though the entire image will be loaded and saved to the disk cache.

Use height and width tags on your images. This way the browser will know were everything is before the images are loaded. The users can start to read what is on your site before all images are loaded.

If you are using tables, don't make very large ones, instead construct several smaller ones (you can always link them up if you want). This will help quite a bit. Also, don't put tables inside other tables if you can help it, because the browser will take longer to work out the spacing.

Remove "white space" (the spaces between your coding).

Last but not least, make sure your front page is as short as possible. A longer page will take a long time to load, even if it's all text. You can always use a link with extra info on another page. If you have too much content on a page, consider splitting it into two or more pages.

A fast-loading site will keep visitors waiting, and the last thing is you web visitors bailing out before the page loads becuase it's taking too long.

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