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Don't Lose Visitors Because Of Slow Load Times
Originally Published: May 27, 2003
Web surfers hate to wait for slow loading Web pages. If your Web pages don't load fast, a lot of Web surfers will go away without taking a look at your Web pages.
Many times, the number of graphics on a Web page and the complicate table layout are the culprits for slow loading Web pages.
The following tips will help you to make your Web pages appear faster in the Web browser. If you apply these tips to your Web pages, you will make a better first impression to your potential customers.
1. Reduce the number of graphics
For each graphic on your Web page, the Web browser has to make another connection to your server. It takes up to two seconds to establish a connection so a large number of graphics on your Web pages can slow down loading your page considerably.
If you cannot reduce the number of graphics on your Web page, then try to combine several graphics to a single bigger one.
Use the same graphics on your other Web pages so that your Web browser can load the graphics from the cache.
2. Specify the dimensions of your graphics
Always make sure to include the height and width dimensions of your graphics in your HTML code. This means that every IMG tag should have the WIDTH and HEIGHT attributes specified.
If the Web browser doesn't have to figure out the dimensions of your graphics, it can already display a graphic placeholders and start displaying the text of your Web page before loading the graphics from the server.
3. Make the top of your page interesting
If one of your Web pages takes a long time to load, make sure that the top of the page contains something interesting to your visitors because this part is displayed first by the Web browser.
If the top of your page contains a meaningless graphic or an unrelated ad, chances are that your visitors will just click to another site before your page gets a chance to be fully reviewed.
4. Divide your tables
Web pages that use a single large layout table take a long time to render in the Web browser. Therefore, it's important to break up the huge table into several smaller ones.
Web browser don't display a table until they can calculate its final size. This means that they must load the complete table code until they can display parts of it to the user.
If you divide a large table into a series of smaller ones, the Web browser can display the smaller tables one at a time. Of course, this doesn't actually decrease the download time of your Web page but the page appears to download much faster to your visitors.
On a similar line, avoid nested tables, i.e. tables within tables within tables. This slows down Web browsers tremendously.
5. Specify the dimensions of your tables
The same principle of graphics applies to tables, too. If you specify the WIDTH and HEIGHT attributes for your tables, then the Web browser doesn't have to load the complete table code to calculate the dimensions of the table.
It's especially important to specify the WIDTH attribute of your table because then the Web browser can already display the top of your table.
6. Use dynamic cell widths
Take a moment to add up the individual widths for each table cell of your table. If it's more than the specified table width, then the Web browser will have problems displaying your table.
When the Web browser tries to display the table with the specified table width although the combined widths of the table cells are bigger, your visitors will see unpleasant and slow display effects.
In this case, the browser has to repaint the whole table because it has determined that the total width of your cells is bigger than the specified table width.
For this reason, you should define the cell widths in percentage terms. For example, if your cell widths are 150 pixel, 300 pixel and 50 pixel, then you should change the specified widths to 30%, 60% and 10% respectively.
If the table cell widths are specified in percentages, then the Web browser can quickly calculate the widths of the table cells. Your Web page will appear much faster.
It's important that you know the download times of your Web pages. In general, your home page should load in 20 seconds on a dial-up connection, whereas the top of your page should be displayed within 5-8 seconds.
If your Web pages are displayed and rendered as quickly as possible, people will have more time to read the actual content of your Web pages. Following the tips above, you should be able to reduce the overall download time of your Web pages.
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