The Lemures Files
  Guest Article: September 16th, 1998

The Need for Speed

By: Apatt

While the general standard of SM pages seem to have improved a little, as observed by the AQ's July "rant" article, one problem that still plagues many pages is the slow loading time. I have read somewhere that a single page should never exceed 50K including texts, graphics, and any other add ons. The page should load within 30 seconds by a humble 28.8 kbps modem, and a normal telephone line (no ISDN or T1). Yahoo is often cited as a fine example of an attractive and fast loading page.

For my own pages I try to stick to this "50K" guideline but I find that SM pages often need to be a little (not much) bigger than that, a Sailormoon page with very little or no Sailormoon graphics is not particularly captivating. The fact is ours are not commercial pages like Yahoo, ours are fan pages, and fans can wait a little longer - bu not too long, patience can only be stretched so far. The SM Zone's index page weighs just over 84 kb, I would like to make it smaller but I feel I need those graphics to represent each major section of my page (especially as each of these section was designed as stand alone pages). I would say that the ideal size for an SM page is 60K, and that the absolute maximum for a page is 100k and you should really avoid going up to that limit. Besides, we often have things like a tracker, a counter, and LE banners to slow our pages down a little more, and if you are on Geocities, they dump even more undesirable stuff to drag down your pages like the watermark, pop-ups, "geoguide", advert banner, and goodness knows what they will think of next! ^^;;;

Note: Of all your pages, the download speed of the entry page is the most important, because if the main page loads slowly the visitor is unlikely to want to see the rest of the site.

Graphics sizes

Inline Graphics

Inline graphics are simply graphics that appear on your page along with the texts. I have seen too many pages that use large in-line graphics , especially image maps. In my opinion no single in-line graphic should exceed 40K, I have seen pages with an in-line graphic of 200-400K, a total disaster! As for my own page I try to avoid using anything over 20K if I can.

Image maps

You don't need an image map to have a cool navigation system for your page, a set of small buttons or neatly laid out text links will often do just as well. Any ways, if you must use an image map I would again recommend that you avoid going over 40K and use something smaller if possible. A lot of SM image maps are over 100K in size, if you are using one of those I'd suggest you consider some faster alternative.

Width & Height IMG attributes

I mentioned this before elsewhere, so I'll just say that you should always put the width and height attributes into your IMG (in-line image) tags. This will help the visitor's browser to load the text part of you page first so your visitor will have something to read while the graphics load. More about this at my HTML tips page.

Background graphics

There are beautiful pages that do not use background graphics at all, like Lunara's Eternal Sailormoon Heaven, much of Naomi's Fire Senshi Realm (, and Rowena's SM CyberCity is without bg graphics. So you can have very nice pages without bg graphics, it's a question of an eye for aesthetics. However, bg graphics are nice, and most of my pages do have them. However, like any other graphic on your page they will add a chunk to your page's loading time. My ideal size for a bg graphic is 10K or less, these load fairly quickly, and can still look good. A example of this would be the bg I use for the Sailor Mars Zone's links page. However, I often yield to temptation and go over this 10K ideal, such as the bg for the Apattisms page which is 18K. I highly recommend 20 K as the maximum. The previous bg for the SM Zone is 38K and I am not using it for the entry page right now (though if I find a use for it I will, because it took a long time to put together). I also think the Toolbox's entry page bg (at the time of writing) is a little too big, so I may find other uses for it too. Since I have launched the Toolbox, several people have been sending me border backgrounds to put up (sorry, I can no longer accept unsolicited submissions, I just don't have the space!). A lot of these are over 40K, and some are over 100K! If you are making border bgs for yourself or others please be careful of the file size! Anyhoo, trust me, keep it under 20K, and go for 10K or under if possible.


No doubt about it, background music seriously slows down your page! If possible avoid embedding background music. Note: Even if your bg music is not auto play, the midi file will still be downloaded, so you won't actually be saving any time, it's just that a lot of people do not like to be subjected to auto play music these days. Always provide an "off switch" for your music of course. On the Other hand.... I have to admit that sometime bg music is nice, of all my pages there is only one that uses background music, it is at the Sailor Mars Zone, the song is called "Lady in Red" and the music is auto play! I can't really justify it, I just like to have that particular tune playing a that particular page! In any case, none of my numerous other pages have background music and I don't intend to use any in future. In any case, before you use music think about the pros and cons first.

Java Applets

Avoid them at all cost! These are even worse than background music! Well, if you must use one I'd recommend that you don't put it in the entry page. Yes, I know they look cool and I did indulge in using one (see Rei by The Lake at Sailor Mars Zone) but they are generally useless time wasters.

Java Scripts

Not to be confused with java applets, these are usually very fast and often useful, like the pull down navigation menu, but those useless "please enter your name" alert box things will make your page totally unbearable. Be selective with what script you put on your pages. So, by all mean, beautify your pages, make it lively, make it fun, but remember, speed is the essence. You can have very cool pages that load in well under a minute, and what is the point of having an amazingly beautiful page that take ages to load? Nobody will wait that long to see it!

Comments on this article can be sent to: Apatt.

Comments made on this page are opinions of the author. They are not necessarily shared by Tripod and the Amazoness Quartet.

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