Long Web page or short multiple pages? (was Re: Students & Web pages)

Subject: Long Web page or short multiple pages? (was Re: Students & Web pages)
From: Stan Brown <stbrown -at- NACS -dot- NET>
Date: Wed, 24 Apr 1996 02:08:40 -0100

>> Then, too, scrolling down an exceptionally long page is often deemed
>> preferable to jumping to a new page because it shortens access time
>> on the Web
>That's completely backwards. ...RM

No, it's not -- at least not completely. The issue is less open and
shut than Richard makes it. For what it's worth, I agree with "often"
in the earlier comment, but would certainly not agree if it read "always".

The overhead of opening a Web page is significant and doesn't depend
on its size. I don't have the figures, but retrieving ten 2K pages
will take noticeably longer than one 20K page -- at least on 14.4
Kbaud connections like mine. (I don't know whether this is true for
the lucky souls with T1 lines. I suspect busyness of sites or of the
network may swamp connection speeds for Web pages that don't contain
very large graphics.)

If you have 20K of material to present, you have the choice of
presenting it as one page with internal links or several interlinked
pages. (Even with a "smaller" page, bear in mind that there may still
be scrolling if the reader uses a smaller window or a larger type face
than you.) Here are some of the pros and cons:

one big page:
+ no wait at all to access internal links
+ user can more easily print the page or save it to a text file

smaller pages:
+ shorter wait before the reader sees something on screen (some
browsers), at the expense of another wait for accessing any link
(all browsers)
+ several sub-documents can be displayed simultaneously in separate
windows (some browsers)

Which technique is better is probably a religious argument. I don't
believe either is necessarily better in all circumstances. It also
depends on what is meant by "big", too: I would find it difficult to
justify a single 200K page.

If you'd like to see an example of the "one big page" approach, you
may access my article on hard-disk partitioning (20449 bytes) at
Naturally any comments will be gratefully received.

Stan Brown, Oak Road Systems, Cleveland, Ohio USA +1 216 371-0043
email: stbrown -at- nacs -dot- net Web: http://www.nacs.net/~stbrown/
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