Each and every developer wants to increase the loading speed of their web store. In the technically advanced era where each and every second plays a vital role in retaining the customer from leaving your web store to the competitors web store is not something that you would want from your users.You might have observed that images generally take more time to load and if there is any website that is cluttered with images then as a user you might be irritated in waiting for all the images to load and would prefer to visit any other website. To deal with this hassle and retain the users on your website there is this simple trick known as the CSS Sprites. With the usage of CSS Sprites you can actually save that one single second that will help you retain your customer base.
Wondering what CSS Sprites actually are?
It is just so simple and this post on WDJ will help you understand the concept of CSS Sprites and how these sprites help you speed up your website. A CSS Sprite is nothing but a huge image that consists of several small images. All the small images are combined into a single big image. With CSS Sprites there is no restriction and you can merge any number of small images into one single large size image. So now the large image i.e. the CSS Sprite consists of all the small images that you want to be loaded on your website when the webpage loads.
The understanding of the concept is rather simple instead of having to load several small images all the time you will be grouping all the images in a single file and all the images will be loaded in one go while displaying the parts of the image. Therefore this will reduce the previous memory time off the server from having to continuously request loading of images thereby by making your website load faster than expected and retaining your potential customers.
You might have previously experienced that before with images that they have an OFF or ON or change on Hover. All these are generally present in one file. The best thing about CSS Sprites is that you can have any number of different images in one file.
How do CSS Sprites Speed Up your Website?
The concept of CSS Sprites is everything about reducing the number of HTTP requests to the server that would be required to load a particular web page. Web Browsers have the tendency to deal with only a few HTTP requests in acknowledgement. So whenever there is a HTTP request there has to be a communication channel established between the web server and back with the web browser (known as round trip time).
Nowadays everybody has fast net downloading speeds and thus the speed of the Internet Connectivity is not an issue at all, it is the time taken to fulfill the number of HTTP requests for small images such as buttons, icons and so on. Thus by making use of CSS Sprites on your webpage you can reduce the number of round trip times to the web server and speed up your website.
Now the next most important question that runs into the minds of most web developers is that should they make use of CSS Sprites in the theme of their website. The answer to this question is definitely a big YES. To state precisely you must make use of CSS Sprites if your website is having more than 3 or 4 CSS Background images on each webpage. Using CSS Sprites in your website theme will make sure that only one HTTP request is required to load the website images instead of separate HTTP requests. Thus having CSS Sprites in your website theme will considerably reduce the overhead on the web server and load your webpage within seconds just by a single click.
Wondering how the CSS Sprites technique came into existence, let us give a brief overview on this as well. This technique was actually borrowed from the old 2D games wherein each animation frame for a single character was draw as a single huge bitmap image. So when the game play began, anytime the given character was required from the frame of animation that image would be loaded from the sprite sheet that is in the video memory making it loads faster than having to retrieve the image from the main memory. The logic here is that the sprite sheet consisted of all the frames of animation which required that you have an already defined list of coordinate pairs so that with the help of those you can move to the exact location on the sprite sheet so as to locate the required image for loading.
One important point that needs to be considered here when you are creating a Sprite image is that you will have to position the images just the perfect way with proper alignments otherwise the images will not display properly as desired. If by any chance the image does not fit in then you ought to re-export the complete sprite image and modify the alignments of all the small images. When working with CSS Sprite images it definitely requires you to be careful and detailed so as to achieve the expected results. You must ensure that you do not overdo the images for your CSS Sprites. Developers generally make use of CSS Sprites for the buttons of huge websites, small icons or smaller images. To ease the usage of CSS Sprites you can use one among the several online CSS Sprite generators that help you add images easily without any hassle. You can with ease include CSS Sprites in your web design with the help of these CSS Generators as these generators parse special directives which you can put in into your actual CSS so as to mark the respective images that will be converted into sprites.