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Getting Started With Web Graphics: The Basics

Here's an overview of the kinds of graphics used in Web design, the ways you can use them, and the fundamentals of getting them to work right.


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umans tend to be visual creatures—and the Web reflects who we are.

Back when it started, the Internet was a text-only medium. Hard to imagine now, isn't it? A bit like imaging TV with captions but no pictures or sounds!

Things were simpler back then, bandwidth requirements far less demanding by necessity, since bandwidth itself was so severely limited. It was an imageless, text-centric world.



Passionately visual creatures that we are, this situation soon changed...and changed with a vengeance! Along came the Web and and the Web browser and suddenly the online world was teeming with graphics.

Some of these graphics are useful and functional...while others are empty, bandwidth-hogging, and sometimes just plain annoying. With just a little knowledge and planning, you can make sure all your graphics fall into the first category and are additions that make your site a better place to visit.

Graphics are about more than adding a "pretty picture" to a Web page.

You'll find graphics incorporated in more ways than you might at first realize:

  • Many are right out in the foreground, in the form of splash images, photographs, and logos.
  • Others are part of a navigation system, used as image maps and icons.
  • Others are a bit more difficult to spot and appear as background images, watermarks, graphic bullets and lines, graphic text, and invisible "spacer" graphics that are used to fine-tune page layout spacing.


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