You come across it all the time, a good site with poorly designed logos and images. Worse yet some are simply taken from other sites, and used without permission, other times they are modified images, or just too large. In this section you will find how to keep images small and clean, what programs to use, and some design tips from the pro’s.
Well first off you will need a pretty decent machine to design on, with a good size monitor. For me, the bigger and higher resolution the better. CPU and RAM is important also, especially RAM due to the fact that graphic design programs are pretty memory intensive.
There is some pretty good software out there. I recommend try the following:
1. Adobe Photoshop
2. Macromedia Fireworks
3. Bryce 4
4. Poser 4
5. Adobe ImageReady
After you get the software, there are quite a few good tutorial sites out there if you look around. We also have a basic Photoshop tutorial for you here.
There are some simple steps you should take when designing images for use on the web. One thing you have to take into consideration is that a good majority of the users that will visit your web page have a 56k connection speed or lower, so you should try to keep your page load times as low as possible. Personally I pretty much refuse to use images over 12k in size, unless I am showing work that wasn’t meant for the web, such as computer generated landscape art, etc. If I do use images over 12k in design ( and I use that loosely ) I will chop the image into sections to help load times and keep individual sections loading quicker. This will allow the user to at least see something while the page is loading, instead of waiting for one gigantic image. I have seen some sites using Bitmap images ( BMP ), but I am totally against this type of format, as you can get much greater compression with GIF or JPG.
Two simple rules to remember, keep images clean looking, and keep the compression ratio low enough to get a good image size, but not too low as to distort quality. It is a trade-off you have to make. With a good program like Adobe’s Photoshop you shouldn’t have much of a problem, as both Photoshop and Fireworks offer a preview of what the images will look like and what sizes the image will be, before you make a choice on which one you want to go with.
As we have learned before, remember the general rules, keep it clean and keep it fast. Check your page load times, and try to keep them below 20 seconds maximum using a 56k modem connection, that includes images and everything. Obvious exceptions is that if you have a large area with multimedia content that the user chooses to enter, not an area that you forcehim to enter.
Use good software, it will make the difference. Don’t expect to be an expert in Photoshop if you can make some text and throw a few filters at it, and all of a sudden you are an expert. It is much more deeper then that. Be sure to learn the way channels and layers work, and learn all the toolbars, as they will help you out of a lot of sticky situations.
As with anything, always read as much as you can to further your knowledge about the subject. Learn from others work, but don’t copy it or modify it. Visit tutorial sites, and read message boards regarding design in general, and most important, have an open mind and listen to your customers.
Make sure to check our GIF vs JPEG article here.