[map]A Page Structure Pattern from
Patterns for Personal Web Sites

Necessary Images

The adage "a picture is worth a thousand words" is literally true on the Web, where even small images often require as much bandwidth as several pages of text. If we hope to make every word count, we should be able to justify our use of the equivalent of thousands of words to communicate a single idea.

A more serious problem created by images is distraction. Animated images are anathema to good Web design, but even static images distract visitors' attention from the surrounding material. Unless the page's subject is its visual design, each image you add will decrease readability. This is especially true for textured background images.

Finally, each image, no matter how small, slows page loading. While this problem has decreased with time, it will never completely disappear.

Therefore, use only those images that are necessary to a page.

Rule of thumb: if you can remove an image without weakening a page's meaning, do so.

However, many people consider bare, all-text pages boring or unfriendly. One solution is to provide a single, small, unobtrusive image in a common place on each page as part of a Standard Header And Footer. This helps to give your pages a Consistent Format. An image is often used in the upper left corner of pages to provide a link to the site's home page.

Last updated 8 July 2003
All contents ©2003 Mark L. Irons