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If it takes longer than a few seconds for your webpage to load, then your images are too big or you have too many on a page. It is not necessary for a photo to take up space of an entire browser window. Too many photos, without a doubt, will slow your website down to a crawl, even on a high-speed connection. Most people will leave your website before images finish downloading. You can make images small enough for a slideshow or create thumbnails so that your visitors can select which images they want to see. Once your visitors click on image to see a larger view, make even that image small enough to see all details, but not big enough to slow down your website. There are quite a few image editors out there to use - some are even free. I use Macromedia's Fireworks to optimize my images. They have a tool where I can make my images smaller without losing clarity.
e.How do I test my pages for errors and user-friendliness?
Have a few other people look at your website. If you dont think that friends and family will want to hurt your feelings, find a site with your color scheme; tell them that this website is not your website, but you would like their opinion on color scheme and if it is difficult to read. You can also post your URL to various forums to ask them for a critique of your website. If this is your first time testing, you can ask for feedback so that you can get a variety of comments. Keep a copy of answers you get so that in future you can refer back to what people have said about certain features. Later on, you can put together a checklist to go by for every website you design. I wouldn't use just one checklist to check all websites, but a checklist would be a good start. Whether you are a beginner or expert website designer, you will always need to test multiple times. You have a great deal of choices to check for errors on your site. I like to use W3C's validators to check for errors and to bring my websites up to standard.
Making your website user-friendly is one of best things you can accomplish for yourself and your visitors. Taking time to ensure usability is nothing compared to how many visitors you will lose if you have a not-so-friendly website. Ensuring readability, fast downloading, and performing multiple tests will get you started in right direction of designing user-friendly websites. Good Luck! Send me a link if you want me to critique your website.
This article was written by Regina Stevens, owner of Keep It Simple Websites (http://keepitsimplewebsites.com). If you would like to send comments, email the name of the article and where you found the article to articles[@]itjsatlanta.com. Take the brackets out before sending me an email.