Images, sound, Flash movies, video etc. are all heavy in file size. Let us see how we can present these to the visitor so that his patience is not tested.
Images: Ideally, all large images should be displayed as thumbnail. Images should be optimized not only in terms of color depths (GIF images) or quality (JPG images) but also resolution. Images on web pages should not exceed a resolution of 72 dpi, unless, of course, the purpose of your web site is to distribute high definition photos. Thus, show thmbnails of the high-res photos so that visitors are able to scan through them quickly.
There are two main advantages when you display large images as thumbnails. Firstly, the choice to view the larger version is left to the visitor and secondly, you’ll be able to present more images on the same web page.
Sound: Visitors should not be forced to download large sound files. Small midi files that serve as background music might be forgiven by visitors, but larger files (.wav etc) should be presented as a link.
Flash Movies: Flash files are predominantly used as intro movies. Experience tells me that these intros are usually large since the developer has spent a lot of time on them. Be sure to place a ‘Skip Intro’ button, so that time conscious visitors can jump straight to the information they came for.
Video: It’s seldom a good idea to include a video file directly on a web page. A better approach is to place a link to the large video file. Also mention the size of the file beside the link.
PDF documents: Another lesser known and often overlooked aspect is inclusion of PDF files. Documents that contain plain text or scalar images are typically small in size. However, if the PDF file has photos (raster images), the file size can bloat up. The best and recommended solution is to have the file size mentioned beside the link to the PDF document and to set it up so that it opens in a new window.
Remember, your aim should be to have the web site loaded quickly on the visitor’s device. Large files will slow things down considerably.
Mike Lazaridis, the founder of BlackBerry, is of Greek origin. He was born in Turkey and moved to Canada with his parents when he was 5 years old. [more...]