It is very much possible to create beautiful, minimalist websites with simple and intuitive controls and navigation. These websites might be very enjoyable for the user and straightforward to navigate around, but without demonstrating good Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) there is a very really danger that the user will not find your site in the first place, and never find out how brilliant it is.
To be most effective, your site has to appeal not only to the prospective user, but also to the search engine’s spiders, which are deployed when a search is requested and charged with finding the sites most relevant to the user’s search criteria.
These spiders, as they have become known within the industry, are not able to read images and round up relevant search results by identifying important text within each site then ordering these sites on the basis of their relevance to the search terms as well as their usefulness and authority.
This means that while and image link or image map may be very usable to the human user, they will be overlooked by the search engines and will represent a missed opportunity to demand their attention. This is an example of a good website, hampered by bad SEO.
The best way to ensure a successful search engine return is to populate your site with relevant keyword rich text, and text links are one way to improve your search engine visibility. But text links can be less inspiring or impressive to the human user.
As a rule, if you want to use java script drop down menus, image maps and image links on a page, it’s important to also include image links somewhere in the page for the spiders to follow.
That way you’re keeping the humans and the spiders happy; and that is SEO gold dust.