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Why load in a new window?

You may notice that a number of pages use a system of loading larger images into a new frame if you click on the smaller thumbnail.

You may wonder why this is done and why it's done this way?

Thanks for asking! It gives me a chance to ramble on about web page design, the choices that must be made and the tradeoffs that I struggle with from time to time.

You have to start with the understanding that not everyone has the same bandwidth. The system I design these pages on is purposely on the minimal side of bandwidth requirements, to make sure I don't leave anyone in the dust.

Some sites assume that the users all have a high-bandwitch connection. After all, most programmers are very well supplied with bandwitch, and have large CPUs and monitors as well. But I know not everyone is so well equiped, so the site is designed to work with less. In fact much of it was written while I was on a dialup account, and not a fast one at that.

One of the most difficult issues is based around the images. There are a lot of ways to make images load faster, from using a lower quality image to making them smaller. I tend to gravitate toward the smaller picture approach, rather than having a large picture with poor quality, since I hate grainy pictures.

n33267.jpg Small is a relative thing. On some screens the pictures that look tiny to you actually come out pretty large.

Remember that browsers can be set up in a number of different ways, from fonts to overall window size, so the pages are designed to flow with those variations.

So you can see that I try to keep the images small. Yet some of them are important, whether because the details are very fine or because it's just a great picture. In those cases I try to have a larger image available, just a click away.

Both of these pictures, for instance, can be clicked on to load a larger image. The first one will load in a new window, the second one loads into the current window.

boynesd.jpg Now to the point: which way is better? Would you rather have to hit the back button and reload the page you just left? Or click between tabs or windows?

The choice was made in this design to trend toward making such images load in a new window or tab, just to save the refresh time in going back.

So I just load the new one into a new window, so you can flip back and forth without dramatic load times.

On some larger screens it also allows you to have both up at the same time. If only we all had such large screens..

Keith Peterson, Webmaster, Cardinal Flyers.

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