{{ searchResult.published_at | date:'d MMMM yyyy' }}

Loading ...
Loading ...

Enter a search term such as “mobile analytics” or browse our content using the filters above.


That’s not only a poor Scrabble score but we also couldn’t find any results matching “”.
Check your spelling or try broadening your search.


Sorry about this, there is a problem with our search at the moment.
Please try again later.

There continues to be a tension between web design that is “highly-designed” and web design that is accessible and search engine friendly. The former sites tend to be Flash only or rely heavily on DHTML.

So it is possible for a site to be beautiful but accessible?

Just yesterday I posted about “Dr Martens launches new website freedm2.com – beautiful but flawed?”. In one of the comments to my post, Jon Bovard cites the fashion / luxury market as the most obvious sector where you see stunningly beautiful sites but which are chock full of Flash or DHTML.

He gives the following examples:

I’d add http://www.gucci.com/ to that and no doubt there are many others.

It is easy to criticise such sites for their lack of accessibility compliance. Few of us are whiter than white when it comes to accessibility (this site included) so perhaps we shouldn’t throw stones. Often such brands are not governed out of the UK so accessibility (and possible litigation) aren’t really much of a commercial concern for them anyway.

However, it would be good if we, the industry, could give examples of how ‘beautiful’ sites can be built which are also accessible and search friendly.

Personally I think that navigation, ease-of-use, functionality etc. can be ‘beautiful’ in terms of customer experience. Have a look at a search on handbags on MSN’s new Live Search. Roll over the images. Play with the slider. Try the ‘Scratchpad’ and drag a few tasty bags into it. I think that is beautiful. Far more beautiful than the luxury brands’ sites which I can barely navigate.

However, let’s try and make ourselves give examples of sites which are graphically ‘beautiful’ (“look pretty”) and also accessible and search engine friendly. Can we think of any?

Css Zen Garden has examples of how CSS-driven sites (accessible and SEO friendly) can still be very graphically ‘designed’.

Also have a look at sIFR 2.0: Rich Accessible Typography for the Masses – Mike Davidson here explains sIFR (or Scalable Inman Flash Replacement), “a method to insert rich typography into web pages without sacrificing accessibility, search engine friendliness, or markup semantics.” This seems an interesting development?

Any other examples you can add?

Ashley Friedlein

Ashley Friedlein

Published 22 September, 2006 by Ashley Friedlein @ Econsultancy

Ashley Friedlein is Founder of Econsultancy and President of Centaur Marketing. Follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

89 more posts from this author

Comments (4)


David Bancroft, managing director at reverse delta

Here's a few sites I often go to for inspiration for clean, accessible, search engine optimised, CSS-based "web 2.0" design:


Web Development, CMS, SEO, eCommerce

over 10 years ago



css textboxt input (textfield) style - examples - -

almost 9 years ago



HI i need your help i really want to create my own website/web page but i dont know how to go about doing it so can you please help me out

almost 9 years ago


replica rolex

thank you!

over 7 years ago

Save or Cancel

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Daily Pulse newsletter. Each weekday, you ll receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.