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Currently I'm developing a widget for a client, which has a step by step wizard style of filling using javascript. However, their widget for desktop would use 2 large backgrounds to fill up the entire screen including most large screen size resolutions. It's already throwing red flags with me as I think these may take forever to download to the user, let alone two separate requests for each background.

At the end I may have to convince the client to reconsider this design option and opt for one background only.

Just a simple question, I know that more and more people can get access to faster internet these days, but I'm just wondering in this day and age, what is the absolute maximum file size that a large background should use?

Any figure would give me an idea which I can possibly use to convince the client to change their mind.


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With sensible compression suited to the purpose, it's quite possible to get a 2100 x 1400 pixel jpeg backstretched image in under 200Kb. For example, the page on Damien Newman's Squiggle of the design process has a random background image of this size - mostly around the 200Kb mark... – Roger Attrill Nov 18 '12 at 15:16
Agreed. Although counterintuitive, it's actually possible to significantly increase the compression on very large JPEGs without affecting how they appear. – scronide Nov 18 '12 at 23:15

There's no ideal size or de facto limits to the size of images (or any asset).

Actual testing on various devices with various connection types is the best way to understand the impact of file size, and actually showing it in action to your client is the best way to make him/her understand the issue.

Barring realistic testing, you can get more info on ramifications of file size with some research and arithmetic. You can gather stats on the speed of the various connection types (cable modem, 3g, 4g, wifi, etc.) and compute the (guesstimated) time to download the files for various connections. If you expect the site to be viewed on phones/tablets the file sizes could be problematic.

And understand different images can withstand different amounts of compression, so maybe the first step in the process would be to see how much you can compress them without them becoming aesthetically objectionable.

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I have a pretty slow internet connection. 250ko/s. I think that a good website don't have to let me wait more than 5 seconds to download all the website.

Otherwise, internet navigation is an awful pain. So, calculating... 1 Mo is a good file size for a background :) If you do things well, you can make the background download silenty and print it when the download is done.

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