Whenever we access the Internet, our browser displays two types of content on the world wide web-text content and graphics content. Text content downloads quickly and your web page usually fills up with text content in a matter of seconds. If the page is inundated with graphic images, the story can be entirely different.
The Graphics Bottleneck
Downloading images from hosting servers takes time and slows down your system. So while it looks nice to a designer, your site visitors and potential customers may get irritated. Flash animations, for instance, generally require a Flash player which the software company, Adobe, makes available to all as a free and regularly updated download. If you don’t have the Adobe Flash Player on your system, you will have to download it. Newbie designers tend to use a substantial number of images when they design a website. Images are important but it is the overall import of the page which matters ultimately.
The Image Addage
Most major search engines such as Google, Yahoo, MSN, Ask Jeeves and others cannot process and index images that easily. What they may do is process the caption below the image which is in text format and index it. You can use keywords within the text of captions so that search engines index the captions. This would be a smart way of drawing attention if the image loads fast and is attractive to view.
Image File Formats on the Internet
There are two popular formats to store graphics. These are the Graphic Interchange Format (GIF) and the Joint Photographic Expert Group (JPEG). The GIF format is good for minor animation while the JPEG format is used for static images.
For web applications, the GIF files are best saved around 72 dots per inch or DPI. If you save them at 144 DPI, then some systems will not reproduce them well. Similarly, JPEG files are best saved at around 600 x800 DPI. Saving them at higher resolutions may result in poor reproduction in some systems.
Editing and Cropping your Web Images
If you have created a CD with multiple images, it is possible that you would have used a very high resolution to generate your graphics. You should not transfer it to your website without editing it. You should edit the images to reduce the resolution or the visual quality of the images transferred to the web may be very poor.
The Balancing Act with Images
When you are creating a page with images, remember to ‘balance’ the page. This is in terms of placement of images and your color scheme. Careful creation of images on your website will have two benefits. Firstly, the download speeds will improve. Secondly, the images and overall page will appear more attractive.
The Alternate Tag or Alt Tag
There is yet another innovative method to improve the search engine ranking of your website. The Alt tag description is used to describe images. All you have to do is add the keyword as part of the file name of the graphic file and create a special statement which describes the image. This helps greatly with web accessibility issues and improves search engine ranking and positioning because screen readers used by visually disabled site visitors are able to audibly vocalize the descriptions of graphic images.
Note on Flash
Flash animations can look lovely. You can have Flash elements embedded in a website or the entire website can be Flash enabled. However, there are negatives about using Flash.
1. An all flash website takes long to download even on broadband. Your potential customers may go for a coffee break while the site is downloading! Splitting the file into smaller parts does not solve the problem. Instead of waiting for 10 minutes at the start, you will have to wait for 4 minutes, 4 minutes and 2 minutes.
2. Quite often, you will tend to concentrate so much on the Flash elements that you don’t load in enough content. Unless your Flash elements by themselves are the complete presentation, you will need content. As mentioned above, search engines look for content not graphics.
3. Search engines don’t like Flash since they can’t read the file. The only way of partially remedying the problem is by inserting text describing the Flash animation.
4. Flash websites sometimes have the header portion and navigations buttons displayed on the website using in Flash.
Search engines won’t be able to read the flash navigation and won’t know there are any other pages to index. To avoid this situation, you have to have text links in place. best web design company in dubai