Lately, there are a lot of questions about Photoshop being the best tool for web design. It is true that other applications have appeared in recent years, such as Sketch or Edge Reflow, that are better prepared for the new standards of the web, and that the giant Adobe has failed to adapt.
However, although its future is ain’t looking great at the moment, Photoshop is still one of the most used tools for photo editing on the market, and it is also true that it still provides a lot of value. So we are going to give some tips to optimize your Photoshop to the maximum and show you some of the ways that your web design can be as efficient, fast, and spectacular as possible.
Image Sizing for Desktop or Mobile?
The first thing we have to take into account is the size of the canvas to create. Years ago, this question was simple; there were standards such as 800 × 600 or 1024 × 768. However, things have changed, and now there are many screens are different sizes. According to the latest statistics, the most used size during 2013 was 1366 × 768 and 1280 × 800.
In our case, we usually work with responsive frameworks like Bootstrap, whose container in version 3.0 is: 1170px for large desktops, 970px for small desktops, and 750px for tablets, with a gutter, or space between columns, of 30px, 15px on each side.
Therefore, to create a document in which we can work with these measures, a larger workspace is necessary, so let’s put 1300px wide, for example. The height will depend on how long the web that we are designed is, but with 2000px or 3000px, we will have to start. With these configurations, we will have our workspace ready to start:
Adjust Pixel Settings
Photoshop https://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop.html, is quite frustrating when it comes to accurately placing elements in the exact location that you need them. That’s because many automatic adjustment options are disabled by default. The ideal is to activate them :
. View → Snap → (enable it)
. View → Snap To → All
. Photoshop → Preferences → General → Snap Vector Tools and Transforms to Pixel Grid → (enable it)
. And finally, when you use any vector tool (Line tool, Rectangle tool…) remember to activate the option “Align Edges” in the options bar
To Export the CSV File
You have already had your developer company, someone like Still Web Design create a beautiful website, but now you need to create a backup file and export the different elements to send them to the developer.
This can be a tedious task if we don’t optimize it.
Another simpler option is to create an action within Photoshop to export elements separately with a simple key combination. In our case, we have an action in which pressing “F5” Photoshop exports the selected element, cutting it to the size it has, very useful. If you want to use it, download it for free and install it in your Photoshop.
And that’s it, with these tricks you can start designing your website in Photoshop without a problem.
You need to consider the size of your images, not just how they look on the page. And I’m not talking about the size of the image relative to the other elements on the screen. I’m talking about the size of the data of the image.
Many designers go overboard with beautiful images. I’m looking at you photography website owners! This is the internet and you don’t need to have a photo with the image quality and pixel quantity of an image that belongs on the cover of a National Geographic magazine.
Yes, great looking images are a good thing to have, but you don’t need that dense pixel data. The reason is that it’s too much and it bogs down how quickly you website can load. What you want to do, is to lower the image quality to the point that it still looks good, on desktop and on mobile devices, but it’s as small of a file size as possible.
Also, it’s a lot easier to fix this problem in the beginning than it is after the website is already up and running.
Where to Find High Quality Images
Every site you build needs content and every site you build needs images, so where do you get these images from? Well, you can pay for images from sites like Adobe (https://stock.adobe.com/), they have great high definition images.
Or you can use a royalty free image site like Unsplash https://unsplash.com/ or Pexels https://www.pexels.com/. There is a problem with using the free sites though. The problems is that the content is not unique. If you drop one of their images into Google Image search, you’ll see that their images are used on tons and tons of websites.
In general, you don’t want to use free stock images, you want to use unique images that aren’t found anywhere online except on your website. Just be aware that you won’t get as much traffic to your website if you use royalty free stock images.
You do not always need an image on your site, sometimes you can get away with an embed. An embed is an image to a human. When they look at your page, they will see a picture. But an embed isn’t really on your webpage. It’s is a line of code, an embed code, to where the home of the image is, which is on another website like for instance Flickr.
You can take an image from Flickr and place it on your webpage using the embed code, and the user can’t tell the difference. The benefit of this is that you don’t have the image hosted on your web page, which means that is one less thing to load, which means you site can operate faster. And as you know fast web pages offer a better User Experience.
These are some of the best practices the you’ll want to keep in mind when using Photoshop on your web design projects. Photoshop is a great help to most developers but it is a tool like any other. The effectiveness of the tool depends on the skill of the person using it.
How Design Impacts Page Speed
What most developers, and even most SEO’s for that matter, don’t know, is the how images impact a website’s load time. Images are the major thing that slows down a website.
Because almost everyone uses images that are too big for a website or a mobile device. What you want to do, is minimize or squish the image size down to as small of a size as possible, without impacting the resolutions.
You’d be surprised. You can actually compact an image a lot before it starts to look blurry.
If you simply pay attention and make sure to make your images as small as possible, you will be taking care of the vast majority of work that needs to be done to speed up, or to at least not slow down dramatically, your website.