As we draw towards the end of our website redesign, I found myself looking at several websites in comparison. It occurred to me that several of these well-known Dallas area agencies were still using FLASH navigation. Seriously? How have they managed to stay out of the loop for this long?
If I was a business owner or director of marketing looking for a web design and website promotion company in the Dallas / Fort Worth area, I would automatically eliminate any agency whose website or clients’ websites have FLASH navigations. It is an automatic sign that they don’t know the foundational principles of search engine optimization and website promotion.
Sure, FLASH can look fancy. That’s its only function. It allows you to easily put graphics and text in motion without resorting to video. The problem is that search engines like Google and Yahoo! and MSN cannot read FLASH. And if they cannot read your navigation, they cannot index your website. Sure, some companies claim that a Sitemap page containing links to all of your pages on the bottom of the page will settle that issue. Even when the search engine indexes all of your pages through the Sitemap, your rankings will suffer from the lack of proper semantic markup.
Granted, I’m the SEO Copywriter around here, so I can’t explain all the details of design theory and W3C compliance like Stefan, our Creative Director, could. But I know enough to have seen that a skilled designer can create navigation that looks really good without using FLASH or anything else that would hinder SEO.
Remember, style is important. It is in many cases the essence of your branding campaign. But you NEVER sacrifice accessibility or search engine optimization for bells and whistles. You will always sell more widgets when more people visit your site. Just think of it this way: would you rather have 100 visitors who love your moving FLASH navigation or 1,000 visitors who are interested in buying/converting? Content is #1. Exposure is #2. Style is #3.
Keep those priorities and your e-business will go far.