Why Your Website Doesnt Need Flash

Flash looks cool. It certainly catches your attention (the first time you go to the site at least), and it’s perfect if you are selling online games or multimedia services. Otherwise, put it out of your mind. You don’t need it.

Flash animation makes your website slow and inefficient, and besides that, doesn’t work on iPads. It is a great platform for the RIGHT type of project or element on a website. Don’t know what it is? Think websites that begin with floating objects and music, then you need to click ‘enter’.

Appropriate Uses for Flash

“Flash is a multimedia platform used to add animation, video, and interactivity to web pages. It is owned by Adobe Inc.” (Wikipedia).

Flash is a great tool to build complicated animations, online games and stream video. But at the same time I have to say that Flash just SLOW and inefficient. The most appropriate use for Flash is interactive kinds of websites, like http://www.transformersmovie.com or http://www.dietcoke.com. This platform has a lot of disadvantages, one of which, and by far the most important for me, is that it’s not open source.

Open Source vs. Proprietary

As web have evolved, we’ve separated content from markup, which is a good thing. So, in modern web site development we have content (stored in a database), style (CSS) and markup (HTML) and software that connects all three. This software is what we call CMS, or content management system, for example WordPress or Drupal. By using a proprietary tool like iWeb or Adobe Flash to build your site, you are locked into that platform, because it uses its own eco-system that no other program can understand. Websites built by tools like this may be easy and fast to build, but they are not portable. If this “convenient” program is no longer supported, you are out of luck. Websites built with iWeb (by Apple) experienced this problem and you, the website owner, can only hope that some startup will invent a tool that converts your website to a more widely used standard (like HTML/CSS). If not – then the only option would be to re-build your website completely. Another example is Microsoft’s FrontPage which was around only for 6 years (1997 to 2003) and then the company decided to discontinue the product.
Flash intros block search engines

Intro pages with animations powered by Flash are blocking search engines from entering your site. If you care to be found on Google or Bing – this is not a very good idea. It may look cool and interactive but the truth is your Flash intro page is making your visitors wait or make extra effort to get to the page they came to see. Flash elements on a website usually slow entire site down. If your website is entirely built on Flash – you can’t bookmark internal pages and share it on social media. Nowadays more and more users are browsing the web from mobile devices – and Flash is not really optimized for touch screen and gestures even on devices that support Flash.

But I want a cool site!

“But I want to have pretty website with animations, the website that doesn’t look like it was build in Excel or Word. What do I do?” That’s what I hear from clients when I say I won’t build them a flash site. The answer? A lot of “flashy” animations can be achieved with HTML5, CSS3 and JS. Fortunately, the biggest tech companies are supporting web standards, (Google, Apple, and even Adobe).

Is HTML5 the Answer?

Adobe helps to convert an existing Flash website to HTML5 with the tool (still in beta) Wallaby and is releasing a tool called “Edge” for animations utilizing the latest open source web standards like HTML/HTML5, JavaScript and CSS. Who knows how long Flash will be around if tools like this one will gain popularity and will be a success for the company.

Google recently launched a similar experimental tool, Swiffy.

The Big A

Apple is a big HTML5 advocate and doesn’t allow Flash on any of their iOS devices. They even put out an HTML5 demo on their website to prove that you can do pretty good animation with HTML5 http://www.apple.com/html5/ .
As of the beginning of June 2011 Apple has sold 200.000.000 iOS devices . 25.000.000 of them are iPads. According to ComScore, iOS is leading in the US market with a penetration of 44%. Android goes second with 28% and RIM takes third spot with 19%. And if you don’t want to lose 44% of potentials mobile visitors – you need to reconsider use of Flash or intro page.

Just Say No

A few years ago Flash based websites for restaurants was a normal thing, but now it’s losing clients for restaurants that haven’t updated. Most sites like these are viewed on mobile devices to find nearby diners or coffee shops, so if a visitor happened to be an iPhone owner (the chances are 44%) — the restaurant won’t provide much information and the visitor will move on to a competitor.So the conclusion is: if you don’t need Flash on your website – don’t use it! A lot of “flashy” animations can be achieved with web standards such as HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript. And your website will be more SEO friendly, faster, maintainable and viewable on all devices