Why Not Flash Websites?

For the past couple of years you may have heard of the debate over “Flash.” If you’re like most people, you’re pretty confused as to what the big deal is and even more confused over what Flash really is. Let us break it down for you.

Flash is a Technology

Flash Cartoon CharacterThe first thing you need to realize about flash is that it has nothing to do with flashlights, flash raves, or any other kind of flash. Flash is a technology created by a computer company called Adobe (you may be familiar with their Adobe Acrobat Reader) and is meant to power animated websites or sections of websites. It makes sites look pretty by loading it’s Flash content seamlessly so there are really no page re-loads and everything smoothly transitions together on the same page.

Because of this, Flash can often be ideal for creating games, powering movie players, and providing animation and moving graphics. Alone, Flash is not all bad and it can look pretty cool. However, Flash should be used sparingly and should not be the exclusive means of powering a website. So why the limits?

Apple Incompatibilities

So if Flash makes things look seemless and powers some pretty cool stuff, why wouldn’t you want it to power your website? Well, the first reason is that Apple iDevice products (iPhone, iPod, iPad) don’t fully support it. This means that if an iDevice user tries to view your website or a section of your site made in Flash, they may end up just seeing a blank screen and an error message. Nobody wants that to happen.

The last time we checked, Apple was a pretty big and pretty popular company. Their devices were everywhere. And we don’t see that slowing down anytime soon. For that reason alone, it may be worthwhile to avoid flash. But there are more.

It’s Old

Flash is getting old. It’s been around for quite some time now and new technologies are emerging that can easily take it’s place. There are better frameworks even, such as Silverlight, and it’s no longer necessary. The big shots who create the internet standards released a new version of the web-coding language HTML that can do the vast majority of things Flash can do.

Flash is slowly being phased out by many of its users as we progress with technology. Don’t implement an old technology now.

Social Linking

Flash technology works within a single page. That means that if you want to copy and past a link from a “page” on flash, you can’t. If all of your menus are in flash, you’re not actually changing the site’s URL you’re just changing the Flash Page. So imagine if the Wall Street Journal, your favorite newspaper of course, was all in Flash and you found a really cool article you wanted to share with your best pal Sally. There is no way to share that article with Sally directly. You’ll have to tell Sally to go to the Wall Street Journal online, click on US News, Scroll 2/3rds of the way down, and click on the headline entitled “PogoPlus is the Best Marketing Company Ever.”

Now that’s not very enticing or useful!

Search Engines Hate It

The main reason not to use Flash is because SEARCH ENGINES HATE IT. The Flash technology stores everything in its own little private area that doesn’t make sense to search engines and then displays it to the user. While the user gets a good experience, the search engines get left out and those are the guys who you want to impress!

If search engines can’t read what’s on the screen because of Flash technology, then search engines don’t know what to categorize your site as. The search engines will end up getting very little useful content form your site and therefore it will rank much lower. Just like with social linking (above) Google and other engines won’t be able to differentiate sections of the website and so your pages won’t show up in search.

How could anybody possibly find you then?

Conclusion

While Flash technology is very cool there are better tools out there to use. Nobody expects or needs flash animations anymore and since search engines can’t see them and users can’t share them – it’s pretty pointless all around.

Written by

David is an avid social entrepreneur and Boston sports fanatic. He founded Diversified Data Technologies way back in 2009 and stuck around to see it grow. His party quarks include unnecessary dancing and being an overly hospitable host. When looking, he can be found capturing the twitterverse at @DLanphear, being professional on LinkedIn, or bouncing around town with Foursquare.

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