Here’s my take on making your site look good.
In order for users to want to use your site, or in order for them to be able to use your site, it has to look good. It has to feel friendly, have some color, and just have an overall look and feel like a normal website. However, this does not have to be done with either images or flash.
Theres this craze going on right now with flash websites. Designers think it’s cool, owners think it’s cool, user’s just don’t really care for it. Seriously. When was the last time you went to a site that had flash on it and you thought “wow, that’s cool. That made my browsing experience better because that text just came tumbeling onto the screen. I found what I needed easier because of it!”. NEVER!!! My point is that from a user perspective, flash just isn’t that helpful. Not to mention that it takes time to load (as do images).
Now, of course there are times when it’s totally great. I have some friends who wrote a website management system in flash. It allows users to drag and drop stuff onto their pages and handle their layout thorough it. It’s great. I also recently saw a color matching app that helps you find colors that go together. It was done in flash which was appropriate for that app. Most of the time though…avoid it.
In fact, for the past few months none of my browsers would render flash at all.
Here’s why I say all this:
Flash and images dont help your search engine rankings. Not at all. In fact, I’m going to guess that they probably hurt them. Google doesn’t index flash stuff. It doesn’t know what text is in flass movies or in images. I saw a page yesterday that all of the content was one big image. Sure, it looked cool. Too bad they’ll never get indexed in google. I had to find the site through 4 other websites. The point is that content that’s not text is not helping you at all.
Images do however, have an upside to them (and an advantage over flash). Images can have an alt= attribute and google does read that text. So, every image on your site should have an alt attribute and it should have your keywords in it…or should say something relevant. If that image isn’t able to be displayed, the alt text is what will be displayed.
Soooo, if your site has huge banner images at the top, go change them. There really is a ton you can do with html and css. Chances are you can make your stuff look pretty similar to what the image looks like with html. When you do, your search engine ranking will improve and your pages will load faster for the users.