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The surprise -- now when the page downloads, the text comes in -- WHAM!! -- and then the graphics fill in around it. Usable content hits the eyeballs in about 2 seconds.
We have a community of about 50 beta testers for this particular site, and so far they are all pretty wow'ed by the effect -- especially since the trend on the web seems to be toward longer and longer waits for deeply nested tables to fill up, taking data from 4 or 5 different servers, one of which is sure to be slow.
When the first page comes in fast, the visitor is much more likely to try another link on the same site. This got me wondering, what kind of attention are people giving to download times? Does anyone have any other tricks they've discovered for speeding it up, or at least speeding up the perceived time?
I have no tricks but I stipulate 20 seconds max on a 28.8k modem. Now this may seem long but we are a jewelery e-comm site so I use some high res. jpegs for product.
Out of curiosity, does CSS have any browser compt. problems (earlier browser versions)? Sounds like you touched on a good one. I know the speed of the download does affect how long I stay/stickyness (?).
You're right, originally they didn't. But starting with Communicator 4.0 [webreview.com] they do, and the market penetration at this point is pretty complete. Most of my client sites show around 2% of visitors with a Netscape version earlier than 4.0.
The target market for this particular site also tends to be early adopters, so I expect no trouble.
>>we are a jewelery e-comm site so I use some high res. jpegs for product.
When the visual is the most important point, I understand that prospects -- especially serious ones -- will wait a bit longer than the norm. I see this on some fine art sites I work with.
What program do you use for jpg compression? I've been using the HVS PhotoShop plug-in and usually am very satisfied. However on some images I can see visible compression artifacts at too high a file size. This seems mostly to occur in images with very sharp edges combined with subtle gradients. HVS can handle one or the other very nicely, but not both in one image.
I've been thinking about using Debabelizer, but it's got quite a price tag. I'm very interested in any suggestions about what's working for other people
Since the subject is here, I have stumbled on one optimization trick for jpg's that doesn't seem to be well known.
Before saving the jpg, I use PhotoShop and take the image into L-a-b color space. Almost all the detail in L-a-b is held in the L channel, so I can go to the a and b channels and run rather large Gaussian Blurs (3 pixels and more) without visibly affecting the image.
Sometimes I need to make a feathered selection to exclude a particularly sharp edge from the blur and avoid color bleeding. In general, this quick process gains maybe an extra 20-30% in compression when I return to RGB for the final save. It's a good 1-2 punch combined with the HVS filter.
Of course, you can also get decent results with the table COL and COLGROUP elements of HTML 4.0. Sadly, they don't work on NN4.
Browser support for at least some CSS is now pretty much universal. In October, less than 1% of my visitors used pre-4.x browsers. Be careful about testing, however, as IE doesn't support a lot of things Netscape 6 does, and Netscape 4 doesn't support everything IE does. [richinstyle.com...] has good bug references for the various browsers.