Miscellaneous Topics: Part 3

What are ‘LIGHT’ images?

Now that you are getting into the web game, you are going to hear a few things over and over again. One of these is the expression: making your images and your pages ‘light’. You will hear people say: ‘keep your web pages light …’ or ‘keep your images light …’

What the nerds are talking about is the size of the images in terms of file size; we are not talking about how bright an image is.

So how big (or better yet how small) do images and pages have to be to be considered ‘light’?

The last several years of web experience has shown that if people have to wait more than 10 seconds to see your page, you can kiss most of your traffic goodbye. High speed Internet access is growing, but sadly still too many people are using dial-up connections.

Last statitics I heard put the number of people on (slow) dial-up connection at about 60%. This number of course will vary from place to place, but the bottom line is that you should expect to have many surfers hitting your web pages at 56k or less.

56k is the speed of the fastest of dial-up modems you can expect, and 56k modems download at a speed of about 5.6 kilobytes per second. With this in mind, and the 10-second rule I just mentioned above, you can see that shooting to create pages under 60k (kilobytes) is a good idea.

The best way to keep your web pages ‘light’: image optimization.

The heaviest aspects of most web pages are the images. Following the old 80/20 rule we should concentrate on making our images as light as possible without making them look ugly. The process of ‘lightening-up’ an image, is commonly referred to as ‘optimization’.

How to optimize your images

Just about all the image editing programs out there (programs like Adobe Photoshop, Xara, Macromedia Fireworks) have the built in capability to output/create images that are as light as possible. These programs have special export filters that are designed to produce web-optimized images. When you start using image-editing software (and you will, if you are designing web pages) you will find that the process is pretty painless, though you will probably have to tweak things as you go along.

A little common sense can speed up your pages

Besides using these tools, there is no substitute for common sense approach; you may one day have to ask yourself if you really need that image that takes up half the page! Big pictures that take up a lot of space on the page will typically be pretty heavy…

Remember that unless you are National Geographic, Walt Disney, or Playboy, people are probably less interested in nice graphics/photos and more interested in the information/service your web site provides.


I hope that it’s clear that when it comes to web design, heavy-duty computers are not needed and are just a waste of money.