Working With Low-bandwidth Websites

DATE

19th October 2011

CATEGORIES

technology, trends

 

Internet connections vary around the world. In Africa most international connections are routed through a high latency satellite connection. The minimum page loading time in Gabon for instance about t 3 seconds.

 

When you design websites for the low-bandwidth environment in Africa, you come across uncommon constraints.  As more  Africans are able to connect to the web, the inequality in bandwidth reception among users is becoming extremely clear.

A “rule” of low-bandwidth development is that images must load  within 10 seconds!
(I know most if us could cook dinner and pick up kids from school in that amount of time)  So all page loading speeds are determined by the size of the elements and the size of external files it references (ie: css, JavaScript, images and multi-media).

Here are a couple sites we just completed for this market segment.

Here are some  basic rules of low-bandwidth development & design.

No page should be larger than 25k
Perhaps the most important item..build your pages to load within 10 seconds over 25 kbps connections, which means 25kB is the maximum page size.

Good structure
Give users a really simple navigation menu. Simple colors. Simple fluidity. You’ll find that  you’re actually reaching into the core of your web design zen when doing so  .  Don’t use tables for layout and place the main navigation items at the top of each page so they’ll  load and display first.

Reduce Images Of Course
Yes, good design is possible without tons of images. Always use the style sheets to build layouts and roll-overs for instance.  Also make sure your site is usable if images are turned off in the browser. Condense ( http://www.smushit.com/ysmush.it/ )   all your images for optimum performance.

Make the site Cache-able
Browsers should be able to keep a local copy of the  ”cached” website.

You have to avoid PDFs
Or if you must have it  optimised by using vector-based graphics.

 

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