Using Graphics Effectively

Graphics can be fun for all if used responsibly.
When you add graphics to your site there are some base rules that you should follow. First and foremost is to use them wisely and sparingly. A web site full of graphics or made up of one large graphic can be a disaster for the poor guy with 28.8 or 56K modem trying to access your information. Use graphics to draw the eye to important points of your web site or to organize it into categorized chunks.

That leads into watching the size of your graphics. If you are able to adjust the number of bytes of information that makes up the graphic to a lower amount without loosing the necessary quality, do it. If not, use them sparingly. A good rule of thumb is 10-15KB worth of graphics per 8"x11" page of text for a fast download on a 28.8 or 56K modem.

When you place the graphics also take the time to find out the dimensions of the image. You can do this in most graphic editors or simply bring the image up in your browser and right click on it to find it’s "properties" or "info". Declare the "Width" and "Height" to your image within the "IMG" tag if you’re able to. This will tell the browser downloading it right away what space to set aside for the image, making the download that much easier on the browser and your visitor.

Last, be kind to the few information hounds out there who surf with the "Show Pictures" option turned off in their browser. These people will not see any of your wonderful graphics but should be told what they are. By assigning "ALT" or alternate information to the graphic these visitors will at least be able to see the name of the graphic. This can be especially important if all of your links are graphics. By putting the alternate text of "Home" with the "Home" button they will at least know how to navigate back to your home page.