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Web Design Optimization

Aug 17, 2007
Is it possible to have an attractive website and still be optimized for search engines? The answer is absolutely yes! Of course we tend to be mis-guided about what will dazzle the visitor. It is not necessary to overwhelm your website with graphics, which will cause the page to download slower. Our intention is to provide you with tips that will still be attractive, while focusing on Easy Spider. Easy Spider is a term we use at our firm that will optimize the HTML code, but not the aesthetics of the website.

There is no question that most webmasters are developing websites that are complex and full of graphic design elements. Even though, we have faster connection speeds today compared to 10 years ago, we can go overboard and the page wills till download slowly. Of course the user will never wait that long for a website to load, and will move on to the next website in their search results.

One does have to ask the question why webmasters are still developing slow loading websites. Primarily due to a lack of knowledge. The knowledge of simple graphic optimization techniques that will allow them to maintain an attractive website while keeping the page size smaller.

Did you know that a box with rounded corners can be achieved using CSS code only, without the need for any graphic image? It is possible and although not prevalent with all web browsers, we are heading in the direction where the browsers will accept more CSS alternatives. However the point we are trying to make here is not about CSS vs. graphic images, but that we tend to be stagnant in our knowledge and do not keep up with the fast changing trends in web development.

For instance, Flash only websites, while attractive, fund an interactive are not appropriate for search engine optimization. Consider keeping you web page 90% regular text HTML and insert Flash elements to provide the interactive attractiveness.

Granted one does believe that we should not limit the web designer by placing any restrictions that impact the final outcome. However, do consider implanting code wherever possible over graphic elements. Equally, consider the complexity of the graphics as the web sites structure, layout and functionality are being planned.

Another example is when the design is finished and you are ready to slice it into small images to be used in the html code. Everything you do at this stage will affect the total page size. If your design contains rounded shapes that overlap each other or areas with color gradients, then you must slice it carefully so the outcome is a small file size.

Let's look at what efficient slicing means:

1. Do not make large slices that contain lots of different colors. Use a small number of slices where each slice contains a limited number of colors.

2. Do not make a large slice that contains the same graphic structure. Slice a small portion of it and duplicate it in your code. This is a very common mistake that webmasters/programmers make when dealing with gradient color background.

3. Do not use JPEG file format all the time. In some cases a GIF format will be much smaller in size. A rule of thumb - a slice with high number of colors will be smaller in size using the JPEG format rather than the GIF format, and the opposite is also true. Check each option separately. Every 1KB that you reduce from the image file size will eventually add up to a significant reduction in page size.

4. Consider using PNG graphic file formats that will provide you the balance between transparent backgrounds and larger color possibilities.

5. If you have text on a solid color background, do not slice it at all. Use code to create the background instead. Remember that you can define both the font style and background color of the area using CSS.

Advanced Techniques

Graphically optimizing a website is more than just knowing how to do image optimizations. There are some advanced techniques that require a high level of programming. CSS2 has much more to offer then CSS does. Although not all browsers have adopted this standard yet you should be ready for when they do.

PHP scripts have become more prevalent during 2005 and actually feed the information that Search Engine spiders can use. PHP is preferable over JavaScript.

JavaScript's are still good possibilities to consider. JavaScript also gives you a set of options to create some cool effects without needing to overload the page with Flash. Using limited tools like JavaScript compared to an advanced application like Flash to create the desired effects can be difficult. However think about the outcome. For a onetime effort you can differentiate your website from others. You will have an attractive professional looking website that loads quickly.

Get used to writing well optimized web pages because search engines are still the number one method of finding information on the web. Search Engine spiders have to be considered in this cat and mouse game that will never end.
About the Author
Melih Oztalay is the CEO of SmartFinds Internet Marketing. Internet marketing is not only about knowledge and experience, but also about imagination. Visit SmartFinds Internet Marketing.
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