Being Flash is not always best
Flash is great, it adds movement and interactivity to websites that can keep visitor entertained or amazed. It brings a flat screen to life and grabs attention. But unfortunately this all comes with downsides.
Design Over Accessibility
The says a picture says a thousand words, but what if people can't see those pictures. Although the Adobe Flash Plugin is installed on most peoples computers there are still a good few people that either just don't have the plugin, or chose not to have it installed, or have a very old version of the plugin. This means that if you have a Flash website these people will not be able to view it. Of course there is a way round this... have a standard site to back up your flash one, so that these people can see it, but obviously this may come at an extra cost.
The choice still isn't as straight forward as that, for those that do have the Adobe Flash plugin installed there will still be a fair few that use Screen Reading software. This software allows people who are visually impaired to be able to use the internet, by having the content read to them. Unfortunately Flash and Screen Readers do not get on that well, meaning that these users will not be able to use the website to its full extent. Again this can be solved by having a standard site to back up the Flash one.
Accessibility is a major factor in Web Design, giving full access to all those users with visual problems is seen by most as a must. In fact with a lot of business sectors and all government and public sectors it is essential, actually being a legal requirement with government run websites.
Flash and SEO
Flash has had a lot of bad press over its ability to work well Search Engine Optimisation, with many people citing that its impossible or very difficult. Its true that it isn't as straight forward as standard Search Engine Optimisation, but its is far from impossible, just a little limited.
To get technical... Search Engines use small pieces of code, called Bots or Spiders, that travel around the internet looking at websites, reading and noting the content of the sites they visit. They find the site by using links from one site to another. Generally these Bots or Spiders can't read what is in images or Flash, so they have to be told. With images they read a description of the image called an Alt Tag. With Flash they have to read a document called an XML feeds. As long as this is accompanied by META data, and page titles then there is hope for the Search Engines, such as Google to find and read the site. Technical lesson over... Don't worry if you didn't understand that, you just have to know that it is possible to get a Flash site listed on Search Engine Results.
Flash and Mobile Devices
Adobe is having a battle with getting Flash supported by mobile devices. In fact Apple has stated that a Flash plugin will not be available for the iPhone. This poses a problem for many websites, as when viewed on these devices they will not show up. The solution, once again, to have a supporting site that does not use Flash.
Then Why Use Flash?
Don't get us wrong, we do love Flash, and it has massive of uses. Flash is great for streaming media, especially video, which is why site such as YouTube and BBC iPlayer use it to stream all the media content on their site. It is also good for streaming audio content, with the possibility to create an MP3 player to include on the site.
Flash games are also extremely popular, all the major games on Facebook, including those by Zynga such as Farmville are built using Flash.
Flash is an extremely powerful tool, but knowing when to use it and how to use it correctly is the key to a good and successful website.
We at Evanto will help you decide if Flash is the right course of action for you and your site. We can advise you on a complete Flash site, or using Flash elements or whether it is needed at all.