The following image are displayed using CSS Sprites:
The images above are "pulled" from the following image, which contains the sprites at known locations.
When used in conjunction with a transparent pixel image and CSS, you can greatly reduce page load time, bandwidth, and the tax on your server(s) without sacrificing on search engine visibility. This can be done because we use an actual IMG tag for each sprite. Thus, we point each IMG to a unique and meaningful URL, though each loads the same transparent GIF. And we can give each IMG an ALT and TITLE attribute as we see fit.
When not to use this technique:
In the rare circumstance that your users need to be able to right-click on your image to save them for view their properties, this technique should not be used. This technique can also cause issues printing the page, as background-images (like sprites) are ignored by default in most browsers for printing purposes.
However, for most purposes, this technique is a great way to conserve on bandwidth and HTTP requests, thus improving both the end-user and administrator's experience!
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