Graphics will enhance your website if used properly. In this article I cover the foundational information — basic types of graphics and suggested graphics programs. This is just a start of a huge and important topic.
There are three major types of images used on the Internet:
- GIF (Graphical Interchange Format): advantages include the fact that GIFs don’t lose any detail when compressed or decompressed. They are perfect for hand-drawn art, icons, logos, and headlines, but are not optimal for pictures and photos with many colors and color gradations.
- JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group): more efficient than GIFs when compressing large photos with many colors. However, the “lossy” algorithm used results in some loss of detail when images are saved and viewed in this format. JPEG files are sometimes not as detailed as GIF images, but can offer as much as a 35% improvement in file size and compression (smaller file size helps to avoid a long download time).
- PNG (Portable Network Graphics): offer a compromise between the GIF and JPEG formats. They offer enhanced compression among images and can handle multiple colors and larger pictures well, without using a “lossy” compression scheme. Even though they offer an excellent choice, PNGs are still not accepted by the earlier browsers, so I caution using them.
Graphics programs of choice:
- Adobe Photoshop: This top-of-the-line program is the program of choice for most graphic designers and is excellent for both Internet images and print work. It offers a wide range of tools, takes some time to learn — but is worth the learning curve and the price. There is also a Photoshop Elements software program that is less costly and works well for Internet graphics.
- Jasc Paint Shop Pro: Reasonably priced and a program I use often for my website images. It offers many choices, is straight-forward and works beautifully for website photo work (offering a wide range of effects to please any artist).
- Macromedia Fireworks: I love using this program, because I do most of my website design and development work in Macromedia Dreamweaver, and the two programs work seamlessly together. I will admit it took me some time to get used to using Fireworks (another learning curve), but now I wouldn’t be without it.
I have just touched the surface of the wide and exciting subject of graphics. The more you learn about and use them, the more fun you will have. And, your visitors will too!