Size Matters


Recently I played with Adobe Experience XD the new program they’ve released to design user interface experiences. We even used it for the latest build of this website. Right now as of me writing this it’s still in public preview mode. I was excited and hopeful reading the documentation and watching the tutorials. It has a great client proofing mode that allows us to present to a client before development so that they can have a better idea of how things work. This occasionally pops up with a client. Especially when the design will change on multiple devices. I was really excited.

When I first started everything was going well. It was fast and zippy. It lacked good font and color control at the time and they’ve since fixed this. Then came image control issues and I nearly threw the keyboard out the window. One thing that I noticed was that it only allows exporting of PNG or SVG files. PNG files allow transparent backgrounds and SVG files allow for scaleable vector graphics. What happened to JPEG or GIF files? A JPEG while not having the transparency settings of a PNG can get you a much smaller file size. A GIF while not great at image quality is still very small and good for an image with few colors. Then I realized what I was dealing with.

Today a lot is made of promoting how much bandwidth and internet speed a provider has. Most of us have our phones hooked up to our business or personal WiFi. When presented with the Verizon or AT&T map of coverage we see all the locations covered. What we pay very little attention to is what areas are not. That’s the kicker in all this. How many of us have been in area that’s still 3G or very bad connection in a restaurant or store? Quite a bit of us have been there. Files size matters.

We used to have a lot of things when it came to websites. Flash animation, intricate code, fewer browsers and devices to deal with. Every day internet speeds and computers were getting faster. Then came the age of the smartphone and tablet. That changed everything. Suddenly we had to develop mobile only sites on slow wireless connections. Wireless speeds increased and responsive designed websites became popular. They respond to whatever device you’re using and adjust accordingly. Simplifying things by developing one site only. It became a one size fits all mentality. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work too well.

When developing a website or thinking about bandwidth we work with the idea of keeping things small. Google and most search engines even grade sites on this. If a JPEG is a third of the size of a PNG file that’s the way we’ll go. If out of the four a GIF is the smallest that’s the route we’ll take. We also consider what works best on all devices. We try to keep the code simple because heavy code doesn’t work well on smart devices or slightly older computers and browsers. It also downloads faster. That’s the big factor in all this. The smaller it is, the faster it is, and the most likely to make it to somebody sitting in a restaurant or store that you just referred over to your site. In this world the first one there is the most likely to win.

Until we live in a world where wireless connections truly cover every area and have reliable fast speeds… keep it small if you can.

Jason Reeves
President/Guru Scruffy


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