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I have two layout designs.
1) Very nice design which uses background images and such (about 1k bytes worth of background images total) to make parts of the website look better.
2) An image-less design, using CSS only. (check out plone.org for an example).
I've read over and over that users don't care about visual appeal and care only about load times and so the second design is an extreme attempt to make sure any and all have decent load times, whether you are in Spain or the Congo.
Before I go ahead with option 2, I'm looking for reassurance that nothing has chanced from when the 26 points were written and load time is pretty much everything.
Visual appeal shouldn't be ignored. You can do really slick stuff with highly compressed images and some fancy CSS wrangling.
Incidentally, a lot of people in the "third world" use cyber cafes to access the web. Sitting at home with a slow dial-up connection is much more prevalent in "the west".