A question I often get from perspective clients is: “should I build my website in Adobe Flash?”
To answer this question lets look at the cost vs. benefit of an all/ partial built flash website.
Benefits of a Flash Site:
- Slick Look
- Able to animate just about anything
- Strong potential for great looking portfolio
- Excellent presentation piece
- Attractive for Splash Pages (home page)
- Great for applications that might be used on your website
Downsides to Flash Sites:
- Search Engines can’t read the website because it is essentially a movie embedded in an HTML page. So if you care about Optimizing your website for search engines don’t even think about going fully flash. Think target audience! How is Flash going to help in the use of your site? No search engine to date is able to extract textual elements from Flash content. For most people SEO is a very valuable source for bringing visitors to you website – without a search engine’s help you could potentially loose up to 80% of your web traffic!
- Hard to update – you need a Flash Web Master to update the site, as they need to make edits in Adobe Flash.
- Long Download time – means you are waiting longer for the website to load in your browser. Most people don’t have time to wait, or aren’t patient enough.
- Flash requires bandwidth – even though most people use DSL Internet, there are still people who use dialup or other limited bandwidth internet connections. Flash files take a much longer time to load then HTML, especially those with sound effects, embedded movies or bitmap images.
- Blogging is hard – if you blog often this would be very tedious with flash as you have to update the site through an FTP (File Transfer Protocol). There is no way to directly update your website content online.
- No Content Management System (CMS) – How regularly do you want to update content? Using an all Flash website means you are uploading all your content manually to the web server and manually updating. This means opening up the Flash software and adding new text or pages. This can be a problem after a while as its time-consuming and increases the size of your Flash website. Ultimately it will slow down your slick looking website, and might have some impatient visitors leave the website completely.
On the other hand, if you have a Flash designer working on your case, the website can be set up to use text files to automatically add content to your website. Problem solved? Wait, putting in all those text files will take download time, and again you will lose impatient visitors.
Flash can be a great tool and limited use draws spectacular results. It involves understanding your audience before letting your site run loose on the Internet.
One solution is to have two versions of your website on the splash page (first page that people see, or your default page). A Flash and a non-Flash version of the site. We all get excited about fancy animation power with Flash, but you have to step back and sit in the shoes of the user. Some animations are distracting and can deter from what your site is actually offering. At Sayenko Design, we create hints of Flash in most of the websites we create to enhance the professional look but never do we wrap Flash around content. The conclusion is: use Flash wisely if you do and don’t sweat it if you don’t include it in your design.