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Failing to see the wood, for the trees

Don't let SEO blind you to the needs of the readers

     
10:06 am on Mar 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Frequently I encounter webmasters who appear obsessed with search engine optimisation, so much so that they forget about the real users of their web site, the readers. Phrases such as "don't use Flash, Google doesn't like it" are common place. Hang Google, what about the readers and users of the web site?

Yes you might be able to manipulate high rankings in the search engines, but how will that benefit you if visitors immediately turn off?

A web site that offers real value to readers will market itself through word of mouth (remember how Google spread so fast?).

I caution you, don't be blinded to the wood by the trees.

Matt Probert

10:37 am on Mar 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I can agree with your sentiment but not your example, flash has it uses but for extra content. Nothing worse than going to a site that is bloated with flash files, that's coming from someone on 8000/1000 connection.
10:39 am on Mar 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I rarely see a flash file I don't want to skip. So yeah, the sentiment is fine, the example is not.
12:54 pm on Mar 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

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There's no general advice to "not use Flash." The advice, and I agree with it, is to not make an all-Flash site, or to use Flash navigation as your only means of navigation within the site.

Besides the fact that all-Flash or Flash navigation makes it difficult if not impossible for such a site to do well in search engines, both of those present usability issues as well. With your pretty Flash navigation, I can't open a link in a new tab or copy a link. With your all-Flash site, I can't bookmark a specific page, I can't increase (or decrease) the font size. Screen readers probably have issues, too.

I have trouble imagining anyone leaving a site because it doesn't use Flash, but I can imagine lots of people leaving a site because it uses Flash badly. You have to be familiar with the issues and know when and how it's appropriate to use Flash.

So yeah, as georged said, the sentiment is fine, but the example is not. A web site that is focused on its readers will either not use Flash, or will use it appropriately and only to enhance the site.

8:49 am on Mar 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

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georged, maybe you rarely NOTICE a flash animation that you wouldn't want to skip - because if it well done, it might contribute to the over-all look of a website without being "invasive".

But I fully agree that 90% of all flash animations just make be click on "skip" or even disable flash...