by Eric Wilson - April, 1998
It's happened to everyone who has even casually browsed the Internet. You find a site with a stunning background, tons of crisply scanned photos, enlivened by cute animations, and enough text to fill a respectable library. Your new 56K modem is pulling it all onto your screen as fast as it can for your enjoyment. While waiting you decide this is a good time to brew another cup of coffee. Then maybe wash the car, followed by mowing the lawn, and then another glance at your screen says this is as good a time as any to repaint your living room. And when your done with that job, you view your screen and see that this webpage still hasn't finished loading. But most embarrassingly, it's your own. Net surfers tend to be an impatient lot. While no official studies have been done, it's often conceded that any page that takes longer than 3 minutes to load is bypassed and never returned to. That's why when designing a webpage it's always wise to plan ahead of time and be ready to sacrifice aesthetics for computer performance. Break up your site into easily digestible chunks. For example, if you have scans of personal artwork, make a separate page for each scan. Then put together an index to the art by creating "thumbnails," (miniaturized pictures of the art, most graphics software has this capability), then place these thumbnails in groups of no more than 6 on index pages. A quick note on thumbnails, try to make them about 100 by 75 pixels, or around three quarters of a square incn, in size. This gives viewers a preview of your art that they can then click on to see a much larger and more detailed image. Another thing to keep in mind are the actual scans of photos. There are numerous formats you can select from when saving the scan, however, some are more efficient in their use of computer storage space than others. One of the most popular is .JPG, which not only keeps all the colors of the original photo but is generally very efficient. Just about all software that runs scanners allows saving in this format.