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Best Practices—Knowing When and How Your Images Will Be Viewed

Developing graphics and animations is a lot of hard work and a lot of fun. All those cool tools, effects, gradients, and animation tools at your disposal make it easy to get immersed in the process. It’s important, however, that throughout the process you consider where and by whom your graphics will be used.

For instance, if you are building a website that will be available to the general public, it’s unlikely that every one of your visitors will have a broadband connection. Therefore, adding "heavy" graphics that are large in file size could render some visitors unable to view your site properly. If they have to wait five minutes for a navigation image to load, they probably won’t stick around for the rest of the site.

Additionally, it’s a very good idea to keep track of who is using your images and in what manner. The last thing you want to have happen is for someone to take an image on which you worked long and hard and stretch it beyond its limitations—resulting in a cruddy-looking image that others think you created. Be prepared to distribute images and logos in a variety of formats, with differently colored (and transparent) backgrounds, and in different sizes. This reduces the risk that someone will do a chop-job on your image to meet some specific need.

Finally, it’s good practice to remember that although graphics are a good way to enhance your site, an increasing number of visitors on the web have visual disabilities. To accommodate these users, don’t forget to add Alt text to your images within your web pages to allow these visitors to take full advantage of your site.

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