At last we are seeing a navigation away from the dynamic or fancy type of website that has been inundating the Internet through virtually anyone who has had the funds to pay the sometimes ridiculous fees demanded to have a website designed and created. I’m speaking mainly, of course, about Flash, that wonderful web design program that makes it possible to have a website do virtually ANYTHING – except rank in the Search Engines.
Of course, many will be thinking to themselves, “You design a website for users, not Search Engines”. I agree 100 per cent. In fact, the two are so closely linked, as I see it, that you can hardly do one without doing the other. Internet users want information and they want it NOW! There is no information contained in a spaceship flying across the page or whatever weird and wonderful Flash gimmick has been created. There is nothing for the user in waiting for the huge amounts of time it takes for Flash sites to load. Also users need to be able to navigate a website easily and quickly. They need to find what they want without having to search for the means to get to the appropriate page. I’ve rarely seen a ‘total’ Flash site that has anywhere near the simplicity and ease in navigation that plain HTML can give.
I recently redesigned two websites, for different clients. Both websites were made up COMPLETELY of Flash. Checking the Source Code was basically a joke – there almost was none! At least nothing that a Search Engine could read, index and rank effectively. WHY? I have no idea. I was told by one of the clients, after they got upset when I told them why their website hadn’t achieved anything in the SE rankings after three years, and they asked their previous designer why the website had been designed in that way. Their answer reportedly was, “I didn’t know you wanted a website that would rank in the Search Engines”.
I suppose that’s not so laughable when you consider that there ARE websites which simply serve as an extension of a business for use by existing clients to download reports, use as reference sources or maybe access tools or updates. However, I would think any half intelligent person would be able to tell this type of website simply by looking it. Especially a web designer!
As HTML text is the main component of a website that the Search Engine robots can recognize, read and index, keyword rich HTML text should be the major content component of any website. Of course, aesthetics are important too, so a balance of imaging, logo, background and navigation utilities can be used to design and build a user friendly website, which is also Search Engine friendly AND aesthetically pleasing, in fact, often downright beautiful to look at. HTML websites can be made to look every bit as attractive as Flash websites, even if they may sometimes lack the ‘dynamic’ and the ‘exciting’.
I’ve always had a rule of thumb as far as designing and building my own websites and I apply it also now, to the design and creation of other’s websites. I have always been familiar with what the ‘leaders’ are doing. Websites like Adobe, Microsoft, Yahoo, MSN, About.com i.e. websites that millions visit every week, if not every day, and continue to do so. Those websites with PRs of 9 and 10. Even when Flash was THE thing to have, they only used it sparingly in a corner or in a strip across the top of the Home page (as Adobe are doing right now). None of them EVER used Flash to the extent that many web designers decided too and I have to assume that these ‘top’ Internet concerns have the very best minds in the world advising and designing their websites.
Again, as always, it comes back to the same thing… As with life, ALL things can be beneficial and worthwhile but as soon as you begin to overuse anything, you end up in a place called ‘trouble’. I don’t believe anything at all was ever designed, built, invented or discovered to be used in excess. But nothing has ever been more obviously harmful online, in excess, than Flash.