Why shouldn't I use Java applets for navigation on my site?

While you're welcome to use Java applets on your Web site, we don't recommend using them for "hover buttons" (including FrontPage "hover buttons") as the main navigation method.

Using Java requires that each visitor to your Web site have the Java software installed, enabled and working in their Web browser, which is something you have no control over. If the visitor has Java disabled, or the version of Java on the visitor's computer is outdated or not working properly for some reason, he or she won't be able to view other pages on your Web site.

In some cases, it's also possible that the navigation will "work" but cause strange glitches in your site's appearance (we often receive complaints from customers about this, but the problem is entirely caused by the way the Java applet runs — or fails to run — in the visitor's Web browser).

Another reason to avoid using Java applets for navigation is that search engines may not be able to properly index and rank your site if they can't find pages through normal HTML links.

What can I do about it?

The answer is to use normal text links instead of Java for navigation. If you look around the Web, you'll notice that almost no popular site uses hover buttons or Java applets for navigation, and the reason is that they simply don't work properly (or don't "look right") in some cases.

To make sure that your site works for the widest possible audience, we recommend viewing your site in a Web browser that has Java disabled to make sure that it still works properly.

An extremely useful tool is the Search Engine Simulator, which shows you what a search engine sees when it looks at your Web site. This is very similar to what someone sees if they visit your Web site with Java, JavaScript, Flash and image loading all disabled. Although most sites look ugly like this, they should still basically work (that is, the links should be visible, you should be able to read the text, and so forth). If your Web site doesn't work properly in the Search Engine Simulator, that means it probably doesn't work for some of your visitors. If you can make sure your site doesn't require Java, JavaScript, Flash or image loading to fundamentally work, you'll be making sure that your site works for the largest possible number of visitors.