Ecommerce Best Practice Tip #5 – Streamline your site

Is your ecommerce site a breeze to use? Is it fast to download? Does it render (paint) quickly on the screen? If not, is the HTML at least built to display the most important parts of the page first?

You can trim precious seconds off the download time by removing superfluous HTML code, optimizing your images, and converting any tables-based layouts to CSS-based (Cascading Style Sheets) instead. Especially ditch any nested tables. Superfluous code includes such things as programmer comments, commented-out copy/code, redundant font tags, inline JavaScripts and inline CSS. The latter two can, in most cases, be moved to a .JS file and .CSS file, respectively. MS FrontPage is notorious for adding ‘code bloat’ to your pages. Optimizing your images for fast download includes not just choosing the best compression format and compressing them to the largest extent possible (using Photoshop, Fireworks, or whatever your tool of choice is) without noticeable degradation in the image quality, but also defining height and width attributes on all your images. And if you’re still using 1-pixel GIFs as placeholders to align things on your pages, it’s time to leave that technique where it belongs… in the ’90s! A tool like Dr. Watson or NetMechanic’s HTML Toolbox can also help you in your HTML streamlining efforts.