Using Graphic Images On Web Pages
Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes web page designers make is to misuse or overuse graphic images on web pages. Designers become so enthusiastic about using new technology that they tend to focus on “look what we can make for you” rather than a web page’s functionality.
Web page graphics must serve a function. If a graphic image’s only function is “to look cool,” you are unnecessarily increasing the download time of your web pages. “Looking cool” can ultimately cost you more money and make you lose potential customers.
The following list is a summary of the types of graphic images that are acceptable on a web page:
Navigation buttons – Used to help visitors navigate your web site. If designed well, these buttons can be much easier to read and find than text links.
Image maps – Also used to help visitors navigate your web site. If designed well, image maps greatly add to the visual appeal of a web page but can considerably increase the page’s download time.
Logo – Used for your corporate or business identity. Logos increase brand name recognition and add visual appeal to any document or web page.
Bullet points – Used to draw your visitors’ eyes to the main points of your document. Also used to break up a web page full of paragraphs.
Mastheads – Also known as a title graphic. Main function is to let your visitors know which web page they are on. Adding clip art or an illustration to a masthead adds more visual appeal.
Divider lines or horizontal rules – Commonly used to separate footers, categories within a single web page, and FAQ questions and answers.
Background images – Used to enhance the visual appeal of a web page and make a web site easier to navigate. One of the most common background images is a sidebar which usually contains the links to the other pages in your site.
Headings (text graphic) – Commonly used to preserve a typeface that many people do not have on their computers.
Photos – Commonly used to make your web pages seem more personal and more inviting. Visitors’ eyes are naturally drawn to photos of people. An absolute necessity to showcase products on certain e-commerce sites.<
For a truly professional-looking web site, the minimum set of graphics on web pages should be a set of navigational graphics, a logo, bullet points, and set of mastheads. If this set of graphics does not significantly increase a page’s download time, then you can add other graphic images to enhance your site. The general rule is to keep web page size between 40-60K. If you are a graphic designer, photographer, architect, or programmer, a 75K web page will still give a relatively fast download time on a 28.8 Kbps modem.
Any extra graphic images on your web pages should serve a function that is directly related to your business. For example, on a web site, you can have illustrations serve multiple functions:
If a design firm has professional illustrators in its staff, they should showcase this talent in some form throughout the web site.
Illustrations can also serve a navigational function. In some web sites, you can tell which section of a web site you are in based on the illustration shown.
A talented web graphic designer can design graphic images which download quickly and look good. Graphic images should be sized down without losing the integrity of the graphic image.
Remember, graphic images are primarily used to enhance a web pages function. If graphic images considerably increase your web pages’ download time, you will have to either size down the graphic images, replace them with smaller images, or replace them with the HTML default bullets, horizontal rules, or coloured heading text