When you want to build a Web site there are many things you need to think about and plan. This series of articles will take you through the steps to creating a Web site. I will show you the decisions I needed to make and what steps I took to build a new Web site. Last week I chose an HTML editor to use to create my site. I use HomeSite. After HTML, the most important thing on your Web page is the images, and there are a lot of tools out there to create, modify, and improve your Web graphics.
Graphics Creation Tools
There are two types of tools that most professional developers use to create Web graphics, a vector drawing tool and a bitmap drawing tool. Since we are putting together a simple first Web page, we don't need all the fancy drawing tools that a professional designer would have. You should look into getting a graphics tool of some sort, however. Here are some good ones:
Probably the best known graphics program available, Photoshop has all the features you would need to get started creating and editing images for the Web and other sources. It is an investment, but if you are interested in doing Web development as a career (not out of your home, but in a company) in the future, you would be doing yourself a favor to learn Photoshop now. There are hundreds of plugins available and people are developing more all the time.
Paint Shop Pro
Paint Shop Pro is like the "poor person's Photoshop". It is easily as feature rich, and there are lots of plugins and add-ons for it. An advantage it has over current versions of Photoshop is that it has a lot of features specifically designed to optimize images for the Web. If you are planning on doing contract Web design or don't think you will be doing Web design for a corporation, then PSP is definitely the tool to get.
Graphics Optimization Tools
Once you have your graphics, you will want to make sure that they are as small as possible. Where I work, our maximum image size is 12K, including animated images. While this is sometimes a loose guideline, we are still fairly strict and strive to keep all our images small. One way we do this is by cutting large images into smaller ones, and then putting them together with a table like a jigsaw puzzle. The other way we do it is to use tools.
Use this tool to see up to 5 different versions of your graphic so you can choose the one that best suits your needs for image size and quality.