Would you love to have an extra large cup of coffee? Definitely you will. In fact, we all love to have a bit extra. We love to have extra cash, extra time to unwind and sometimes, one more girl friend just to spice up our love life. It makes us feel great and gives others the impression (may be false, but who cares) that you are awesome. But this does not ring true when it comes to web design. Adding a little bit extra functionalities, few more images or using few more variations in fonts can have disastrous impact on the project. These small extra things can make a website terribly sloppy, clot its blood vessels and kill its usability straightaway. Adding of too many images or any other graphical elements can clog its arteries, make it creak under its own weight and make the whole designing process a nightmare. Hopefully, you will definitely not like to see this happening with your website design project. Of course, you do not. So, the time has come to make your design project do some exercise to trim the fat. Wondering how that can be done or where to start? Allow me explain you things in details:
A Fat-free Start: Let me take you to the prehistoric time when users have to wait for an average 1 minute to get a website rendered in a browser. So, as obvious, at that time, we simply did not have that luxury to add bells and whistles to a website. Ok, let’s forget about the speed and all that. In those days, there were no such technologies to make a website look jazzy with loads of images, graphics and animations. So, designers had to face a number of constrains, but it is not bad always. Since they were not in a position to use images or resource hungry animations because of the technological constrains, they used to stick to the most basic things. They only used only those designing elements which were relevant. So, a positive users experience is the most likely outcome in majority of cases. However, I am not asking you to go back to the medieval age of internet (figuratively always).
Fatty Present: But with the advance of technologies, things have changed drastically. Web pages are no longer slim. They have gained weight in the form of audios, videos, images and other interactive elements. Since bandwidth is no longer an issue, designers are leaving no stone unturned to make a website look awesome. To create more rich and engaging experience for users, designers are using Flash, jQuery etc. Though these technologies are changing the way we are used to interact with a website, they are at the same time making them extremely heavy and if not treated properly, they can make a browser unresponsive.
These functionalities may be a boon for designers but we should not forget the fact that too much of anything is bad. So, do not increase the fat of your website by adding fancy plugins, unwanted animations and graphical excess that could have otherwise been avoided easily.
Be health Conscious: Putting on excess weight is certainly not a great idea. The same rule applies for web design. However, you need to change your mindset first. You need to shift your focus from the outlook of “what a template requires” to “what a template needs”. If you feel that a web page can retain its awesomeness without certain elements, you should not dither. Just take it off!! We are simply not in any position to add fancy and resource hungry elements like twitter feed, flash menus, flash slider, big images and all that. Please do not put pounds of weight on your website by adding junk codes and all that.
However, it is not just the fault of the designers. Sometimes clients press them so hard to concentrate on making sites more engaging, they are left with little choice other than succumb to the pressure. So, it is your duty as a web designer to strike a perfect balance between information overload and great website.
Mediums Galore: Web designers are no longer battling with internet speed, they have a new monster to face i.e. the growing availability of different devices. You need to make sure that your website is rendering exactly the way you want when accessed in Smartphones, iPhone, tablets etc. These devices use different browsers, operating systems, screen sizes that make it all the more difficult for a designer to make a website look impressive regarding of speed, devices and the resolutions. So, if you are adding weight to your website in the form of access animations, graphics, videos and all that, it will less likely to render precisely in tablets or iPhone.
This can be attained easily by employing some self restrains. For say, you need to use less images and graphics so that less sophisticated devices can render the website flawlessly. Try to avoid flash animation because Apple does not offer any such support to Flash so, your website will draw a blank in iDevices. If your targeted readers use mobile devices predominantly for accessing your website, you need to rethink the strategy to trim the fat whenever possible.
Yes I know how tough it is for a designer to convince a client that trimming the excess fat from his website will eventually do good to his website. It will take hard work and of course a good deal of patience to execute this task. However, if he refuses to budge, you can always show him some great examples with facts and figures to make him see reason.
Give these tips a go and I hope no animals will be harmed. Just kidding