Optimal Loading Time

The time it takes for a web page to load is often the main factor in whether a user continues to browse your website. If pages take too long to load, a user might never return. How long is "too long" depends on the individual, but most people won't tolerate a load time of more than a minute on an average-speed broadband connection. To minimize loading time for your pages, also minimize the number and size of graphic files. Many tools for designing and editing graphic files include ways to reduce the size of the graphics while still maintaining an appealing visual. (See the "External Links" section of the chapter for links to some of them.)

When considering load time, keep in mind that very large (even book-length) HTML pages can be smaller than even a tiny graphic file. For example, consider the Project Gutenberg book A Discourse of a Method for the Well Guiding of Reason, and the Discovery of Truth in the Sciences, by Rene Descartes (www.gutenberg.org/files/25830/25830-h/25830-h.htm). This entire book in HTML form is only 154KB in size—about the size of an average graphic file. The moral is, a lot of text is good, but graphics are far more costly in terms of bandwidth.

Also, putting links to audio and video content on the page is better than posting the content itself. This speeds up the content-loading process by letting the person who is browsing your site choose to listen to or see the content. Many blogs and websites inadvisably stuff their sites full of videos that automatically start playing when the page is loaded. Avoid this practice unless the nature of your site dictates otherwise.

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