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Question: Java Applets and Flash in Menus

Hi Doug -

I am really unsure about using a Java applet for my menu or if I should go with flash. The problem is if some one doesn't have Java, he won't be able to navigate the web-site at all. I don't want people to have to upload something they may not want. I don't think Microsoft includes the Java with their software, so I'm not sure if it's wise. Do you think I would be much better off with Flash


There are a couple concerns you should keep in mind when you think about doing anything “cutesy”, whether it is java, javascript, or flash, in your menu system. First is, search engines can’t follow links within any of these, which means pages beyond your home page will be invisible to the search engines, unless you have simple hyperlinks to them somewhere on your homepage. Or, alternately, have a simple hyperlink to a “site map” page, and then have all your links on that page.

The second issue is this: few visitors will wait more than a few seconds for a page to load (I’m not sure what the current average is, but it used to be that the average visitor would leave if a page wasn’t fully loaded within 5 or 6 seconds, and in these days of high speed connections, the average is probably even lower). I suspect you’ll find that, if your navigation bar doesn’t appear fairly quickly, visitors won’t wait along even that long.

Honestly, I wouldn’t trust my navigation menus to either java or flash. However, javascript is a viable option, as virtually every web browser supports it, and doesn’t require any secondary software download. But, if you go this route, don’t forget to do a site map, so the search engines can find your pages!

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