Speed Up Your Web : Optimize Images

After a designer is done with creating the images for your web page, there are still some things you can try before you FTP those images to your web server.

  • You can check the GIFs and see if they are using a palette size corresponding to the number of colors in the image. Using imagemagick it's easy to check using
    identify -verbose image.gif
    When you see an image useing 4 colors and a 256 color "slots" in the palette, there is room for improvement.
  • Try converting GIFs to PNGs and see if there is a saving. More often than not, there is. Developers often hesitate to use PNGs due to the limited support in browsers, but this is now a thing of the past. The only real problem is alpha-transparency in true color PNGs, but then again, GIFs are not true color and don't support variable transparency either. So anything a GIF can do, a palette PNG (PNG8) can do too (except for animations). This simple imagemagick command results in totally safe-to-use PNGs:
    convert image.gif image.png
    "All we are saying is: Give PiNG a Chance!"
  • Run pngcrush (or any other PNG optimizer tool) on all your PNGs. Example:
    pngcrush image.png -rem alla -reduce -brute result.png
  • Run jpegtran on all your JPEGs. This tool does lossless JPEG operations such as rotation and can also be used to optimize and remove comments and other useless information (such as EXIF information) from your images.
    jpegtran -copy none -optimize -perfect src.jpg dest.jpg
 
Speed Up Your Web : Avoid Filters

The IE-proprietary AlphaImageLoader filter aims to fix a problem with semi-transparent true color PNGs in IE versions < 7. The problem with this filter is that it blocks rendering and freezes the browser while the image is being downloaded. It also increases memory consumption and is applied per element, not per image, so the problem is multiplied.

The best approach is to avoid AlphaImageLoader completely and use gracefully degrading PNG8 instead, which are fine in IE. If you absolutely need AlphaImageLoader, use the underscore hack _filter as to not penalize your IE7+ users.

 
Speed Up Your Web : Choose over @import

One of the previous best practices states that CSS should be at the top in order to allow for progressive rendering.

In IE @import behaves the same as using <link> at the bottom of the page, so it's best not to use it.

 
Speed Up Your Web : Develop Smart Event Handlers

Sometimes pages feel less responsive because of too many event handlers attached to different elements of the DOM tree which are then executed too often. That's why using event delegation is a good approach. If you have 10 buttons inside a div, attach only one event handler to the div wrapper, instead of one handler for each button. Events bubble up so you'll be able to catch the event and figure out which button it originated from.

You also don't need to wait for the onload event in order to start doing something with the DOM tree. Often all you need is the element you want to access to be available in the tree. You don't have to wait for all images to be downloaded. DOMContentLoaded is the event you might consider using instead of onload, but until it's available in all browsers, you can use the YUI Event utility, which has an onAvailable method.

For more information check the YUI theatre's "High Performance Ajax Applications" by Julien Lecomte.

 
Speed Up Your Web :Minimize DOM Access

Accessing DOM elements with JavaScript is slow so in order to have a more responsive page, you should:

  • Cache references to accessed elements
  • Update nodes "offline" and then add them to the tree
  • Avoid fixing layout with JavaScript

For more information check the YUI theatre's "High Performance Ajax Applications" by Julien Lecomte.

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