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“Beauty and brains, pleasure and usability — they should go hand in hand.”

— Donald Norman


A Quicker Site

Have you ever come across a site that seemed to take forever to load? Did it only display the background, and minutes later, display the text all at once? By reading this article, you will be able to prevent this common mistake from happening to you.

Many people use tables to create an effective web site. Most do not bother creating new tables, just dividing the cells to place new content in. This may work for you if you have few or no images, but if your site has too many, this is one of the best ways to turn visitors away. If you have a "graphically intense" web site, you should use separate tables to split up your content. There are several reasons for this.

First, you should understand how a browser reads a table. In a regular HTML document, the browser will display text and images as they load. However, in a table, the browser waits for everything to load before the contents is displayed to the browser and the visitor. One large graphic in a table is all it takes to change your page load time from 15 seconds to 1 minute and 15 seconds. Therefore, you should break up your graphic if it is large and put it in separate tables with the border, cell spacing, and cell padding set to 0.

One way to break up your data is to create two tables- one at the top with the logo and any header information, and one at the bottom with the actual content. This will work well, as the visitor can see your logo and some options while waiting for your page to load. Another way is to actually make tables inside tables. The main table will load, displaying its contents while the tables inside it load. This will make your page load considerably faster and give the viewer something to read while the sub-tables are loading.

That is basically it- I strongly recommend using this technique to decrease page load time while increasing visitors. Before I let you on your own, though, let me remind you of one last thing: Do everything possible to avoid having to put a Java, Shockwave, or ActiveX program in a table. Use JavaScript instead, where possible, because it is much faster to load and execute. It's up to you now to build an effective web site. I hope the knowledge you just learned will help you through your journey. Good luck.

© Brian Farkas

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