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Anti Flash

Why we don’t prefer to use flash animations and content if we can help it…

Flash IconWe really like the smooth transitions and unique interactive capabilities within Flash. However, for most applications, Flash can be a disaster. The following are our Six Big Reasons Not to Use Flash in website design and development:

1. Flash requires bandwidth and is slow to load
Despite broadband access being available almost everywhere, there are still lots of people surfing the Net via limited bandwidth connections. Flash files, especially those using sound effects, embedded movies or bitmap images, can take a while to load, and we know that users are generally very impatient.
Flash has been used successfully for video content (primarily with YouTube), but new technologies have taken over this role, including Ajax and HTML5 – both of which are faster to load, stream and play video content.

2. Flash sites disable the browsers Back Button
As the famous usability expert Jacob Nielsen says, ‘The Back Button is the second most important navigation element after hyperlinks’. People not able to use the browsers Back Button will click the third most important navigation element – the CLOSE button. Additionally, if you are going to promote any site via the Adwords PPC tool, you should know that Google doesn’t approve sites or pages with a disabled back button.

3. Flash ignores users needs
Whereas the ground rules of web design concentrate on the users’ needs, Flash websites ignore them. This includes anything that shows a ‘loading’ progress bar, contains animation for the sake of ‘creativity’ such as a flash introduction – or sound effects.  All of these tricks leave the user frustrated and are likely to slow down or get in the way of the users experience of your important content.

4. Problems with content management
Flash sites need to be programmed and have their content managed within the Flash application. Any updates have to be made by a Flash developer or designer – you cannot update the content yourselves. This is true of most flash websites with the exception of those that employ especially developed CMS tools such as gambling and Casino sites – which are necessarily expensive.

5. Search engines do not like Flash
Perhaps the most important of these reasons: Search Engines are not able to crawl and index the content of Flash movies. Even those that can often do it with errors. This is in particularly the case of a website fully implemented in Flash as a single file. Search engines just wouldn’t be able to direct visitors to the proper page within that file.
It is true that we can offer a ‘no flash alternative’ for users and browsers that are not equipped with the flash plug-in. However, these can double the cost of development. And, importantly we can now replicate many of the transitions that make Flash popular. So, often the alternative version is as good if not better than the Flash version because it loads faster, includes smooth transitions and its Search Engine and Content Management friendly.

6. Mobile devices don’t always work with Flash
The Apple iPad and iPhone will not support flash technology. Additionally, the new crop of Microsoft mobile devices will not support Flash. This is because Flash does not support ‘touch’. Additionally, Flash drains battery life, causes crashes and represents a security loophole for all mobile devices. Finally, Adobe has recently ceased development of a mobile version of Flash.

The up-shot is, although we like the way flash can be interactive and dynamic – its not right for every application. To look at how HTML 5 can help, along with Ajax and other web technologies contact David Jerram or take a look at the full range of web and digital solutions from Jerram.

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