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Streamline Your Website Pages

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  • Eric Lester
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      Free-Reprint Article Written by: Eric Lester
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      Article Title:
      ==============
      Streamline Your Website Pages

      Article Description:
      ====================
      Put your website page's on a sensible diet and save some
      resources in the process. Numerous ways to reduce page
      weight are discussed here.


      Additional Article Information:
      ===============================
      1018 Words; formatted to 65 Characters per Line
      Distribution Date and Time: Fri Sep 23 03:37:37 EDT 2005

      Written By: Eric Lester
      Copyright: 2005
      Contact Email: mailto:articles@...

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      Streamline Your Website Pages
      Copyright � 2005 Eric Lester
      Apollo Hosting, Inc.
      http://www.apollohosting.com/



      Squeezing the most efficient performance from your web pages is
      important. The benefits are universal, whether the site is
      personal or large and professional. Reducing page weight can
      speed up the browsing experience, especially if your visitors are
      using dial-up internet access. Though broadband access is the
      future, the present still contains a great deal of dial-up users.
      Many sites, ecommerce sites especially, cannot afford to ignore
      this large section of the market. Sites with a large amount of
      unique traffic may also save on their total monthly traffic by
      slimming down their web pages. Some designers focus with near
      exclusivity on reducing page weight to the exclusion of all else.
      Though perhaps appropriate in some cases, single-minded focus on
      only one aspect of design is generally not recommended. This
      article will cover the basics of on-page optimization in both
      text/code and graphics.


      Graphics

      Graphics are the usual suspect on heavy pages. Either as a result
      of a highly graphic design, or a few poorly optimized images,
      graphics can significantly extend the load-time of a web page.
      The first step in graphics optimization is very basic. Decide if
      the graphics are absolutely necessary and simply eliminate or
      move the ones that aren't. Removing large graphics from the
      homepage to a separate gallery will likely increase the number of
      visitors who "hang around" to let the homepage load. Separating
      larger photos or art to a gallery also provides the opportunity
      to provide fair warning to users clicking on the gallery that it
      may take longer to load. In the case of graphical buttons,
      consider the use of text based, CSS-styled buttons instead. Sites
      that use a highly graphic design, a common theme in website
      "templates", need to optimize their graphics as best as possible.

      Graphics optimization first involves selecting the appropriate
      file type for your image. Though this topic alone is fodder for
      far more in depth analysis, I will touch on it briefly. Images
      come in 2 basic varieties, those that are photographic in nature,
      and those that are graphic in nature. Photographs have a large
      array of colors all jumbled together in what's referred to as
      continuous tone. Graphics, such as business logos, are generally
      smooth, crisp and have large areas of the same color. Photographs
      are best compressed into "JPEGs". The "Joint Photographic Expert
      Group" format can successfully compress large photos down to very
      manageable sizes. It is usually applied on a sliding "quality"
      scale between 1-100, 1 being the most compressed and lowest
      quality, 100 the least and highest quality. JPEG is a "lossy"
      compression algorithm, meaning it "destroys" image information
      when applied, so always keep a copy of the original file.
      Graphics and logos generally work best in the "GIF", or more
      recently, the "PNG" format. These formats are more efficient than
      JPEGs at reducing the size of images with large areas of similar
      color, such as logos or graphical text.

      A few general notes on other media are appropriate. Other types
      of media such as Flash or sound files also slow down a page. The
      first rule is always the same, consider whether they are
      absolutely necessary. If you are choosing to build the site
      entirely in Flash, then make sure the individual sections and
      elements are as well compressed as possible. In the case of
      music, I will admit to personal bias here and paraphrase a
      brilliant old saying, "Websites should be seen and not heard."
      Simply, music playing in the background will not "enhance" any
      browsing experience.


      Text and Code

      The most weight to be trimmed on a page will come from graphical
      and media elements, but it is possible to shed a few extra bytes
      by looking at the text and code of a web page. In terms of actual
      text content, there may not be much to do here. A page's content
      is key not only to the user's understanding but also search
      engine ranking. Removing or better organizing content is only
      necessary in extreme situations, where more than page weight is
      an issue. An example might be a long, text heavy web page
      requiring a lengthy vertical scrolling to finish. Such a page is
      common on "infomercial" sites, and violates basic design tenants
      beyond those related to page weight.

      Code is a different story. A website's code can be made more
      efficient in a variety of fashions. First, via the use of CSS,
      all style elements of a web page can now be called via an
      external file. This same file can be called on all a site's
      pages, providing for a uniform look and feel. Not only is this
      more efficient; it is also the official recommendation from the
      W3C. The same may be said of XHTML and the abandonment of "table"
      based layout. Tables, though effective for layout, produce more
      code than equivalent XHTML layouts using "div" tags. Where a
      minimum of 3 tags are required to create a "box" with content in
      a table, only 1 is needed using divisions. Using XHTML and CSS in
      combination can significantly reduce the amount of "on page" code
      required by a web page. A final, relatively insignificant trick
      is the removal of all "white space" from your code. Browsers
      don't require it; it is primarily so authors can readily read and
      interpret the code. The savings are minimal at best, but for
      sites that receive an extreme amount of traffic, even a few saved
      bytes will add up over time.


      Conclusions

      Target images and media files first when seeking to reduce the
      weight of a page. They are the largest components of overall page
      weight and simply removing them can significantly reduce total
      weight. The images that remain should be optimally compressed
      into a format appropriate for their type, photos or graphics.
      Avoid huge blocks of text that cause unnecessary vertical
      scrolling. Organize the site more efficiently to spread the
      information across multiple pages. Adopt XHTML and CSS to reduce
      the size of the on-page code, and call the CSS externally. These
      tips should help reduce the size of your pages and speed their
      delivery to your viewers.



      ---------------------------------------------------------------------
      Mr. Lester has served for 4 years as the webmaster for
      ApolloHosting.com, http://www.apollohosting.com, and previously
      worked in the IT industry an additional 5 years, acquiring
      knowledge of hosting, design, and search engine optimization.
      Apollo Hosting provides website hosting, ecommerce hosting, vps
      hosting, and web design services to a wide range of customers.
      Click for more hosting articles:
      http://articles.apollohosting.com/

      Copyright (c) 2005, Eric Lester, Apollo Hosting, Inc.


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