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Text Links - SEs love them. They can be a big help if you can include your keywords. They can hinder your results if they don't include your keywords and come before your main content in your code.
Graphical Links - Add to download time, which is bad, but can be used in place of text links that would have otherwise diluted the relevancy of your page, which is good. Can be very effective if done well.
- the test page will include css eaxamples that may or may not work in various browsers as I expand the page I will notate all the exceptions.
Often, I'll use graphical links for the general site-wide navigation (home, store, contact, etc.), and use text for a secondary navigation structure to more specific topical pages (widgets, widget accessories, wingdings, etc.).
That way, I can have total control over the appearance of my main navigation (most often across the top of my page), where keywords don't really come into play, but visual branding can enhance the overall site appearance... and still get full advantage of using keywords in the anchor text of the secondary navigation links.
If you are working with a development team, or just working on more than one machine yourself, you must be REALLY sure the font in use is exactly the same, and not just similarly named. More than once I've ended up replacing all the nav buttons when I only needed one new one, but couldn't duplicate the sewt already in use.
Also, I've built a database on my palm with all my domains/sites listed, with spots for listing pertinent fonts, colors, etc. (Now I just need to fill the whole DB in...).
It all boils down to (once again!) knowing your market.
I assume that most contributors here are design professionals and, therefore, Photoshop users.
What would you recommend for absolute novices in the graphic design field for the (I believe) relatively straightforward task of producing navigation buttons?
I recently downloaded the trial version of Ulead's Photoimpact which I'd read is very easy to manage. The fact is that no such software is ever easy to manage without experience of something similar.
Craig_F says that graphical links are "very effective IF DONE WELL". My attempts with this trial version and with Photoshop Elements most certainly weren't done well!
The pages load very fast with less graphics.
What determines which I use is how I (or my client) want the site to look.
From the replies we can see that both have advantages and disadvantages.
When I do use gifs as primary links I also use text for secondary links.
As a sidebar I have both PhotoShop and Paint Shop Pro. I always end up going back to PSP. It just seems more intuitive the way things are laid out. For the most part when designing a webpage all I need are simple logos, buttons, spacer-gifs, and sometimes photo editting. I can do all of these quickly in PSP.
Text links still seem to have more clout than graphic links, but title attributes are a help when you "must" use graphics.