The question came up today about whether to use Image Maps or other alternatives to add links inside of images. I did a little research on the subject, and thought it would be handy to share what I found along with my own thoughts.
A Quick Q&A Summary
Should I use image maps? Yes!… when it makes sense to.
When should I use image maps?
When your images won’t change size
When your link needs to be a complex shape, and not just a box
When you’re dealing with raster images like jpg photographs
When should I NOT image maps?
When your image is responsive and changes size
When you’re dividing the image into parts: slice it, and use image links
When you want special styling or behavior
When you’re starting with a vector image, and can implement it as SVG
What should I remember when using image maps?
Always add descriptive alt tags to your area tags
Add Title attributes to area tags to provide tooltips to users
Include text links somewhere on the page corresponding to the image map links
Order the areas from left to right, and top to bottom for screen readers, and tabbing
Image maps have been around since the dawn of time (which in this case means 1997 with HTML 3.2), so people sometimes dismiss them as arcane. However, they’re still fully supported in HTML5, and shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand.
Having said that, there are certainly some things they can’t do, and should be implemented thoughtfully to be accessible to visitors using screen readers. Of course you know Google’s going to have something to say about it, so you’ll want to implement them properly to bump up your SEO.
Here are some of the articles and resources I found.
What You Should Know About Image […]