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image maps as navigation

Image maps are single graphics which have "hotspot" areas on them which are links and correspond to different pages in the web site.

  • If you use image maps as navigation, as with graphical navigation, try to ensure you provide textual links in addition to the image map
  • This is so people with graphics switched off in their browsers can see the links, and visually impaired people can use a speech synthesizer to follow the links accurately.
  • Try to use client-side image maps, which use html to determine the link "hotspot" and can have alt text defined for each area, this makes it much more user-friendly.
  • Server-side image maps are harder to use as the link destination can change frequently and no alt text can be determined.
  • Try to make sure you provide a visual means whereby visitors can see which
    section
    of the site they are in, rather than use a single, static image map
    as the navigation on all pages.
    • For example, Amazon (http://www.amazon.com), uses several image maps for its tab-based navigation. Each time the visitor clicks on a tab and visits a
      different section of the web site, the image map changes to show the current section having a different colored tab visible.
      • Tab-based navigation is fairly user-friendly as long as you clearly show
        visitors which section they are currently in.
      • If you use tabs, such as Amazon (http://www.amazon.com), make sure they look like real tabs (i.e. as you would find in an office). Visitors understand these.
  • The main disadvantage of image maps is that it's difficult for the visitor to see where they have already been