Whenever a client wants Flash on their website I can’t help but cringe. Yes it was possibly really great 7 or 8 years ago, but browsers have come so far since then that there are many non-proprietary technologies available now that will allow websites to have some of the same features once offered only by Flash.
In my opinion, compared to other web technologies, Flash is very difficult to work in. You need special software to create a Flash file for starters, which on its own costs $700. On top of that, there is one file for creating the animation (.fla) and another file to view the published animation (.swf), which means whenever I inherit a Flash website I can never make any changes because the developer never uploads the .fla file on the server. Just to add some icing to the cake, Adobe seems to do a complete overhaul of Actionscript (the programming language for Flash) every time it releases a new version which means you basically have to start from scratch to re-learn.
Now that’s just the down side from a web developer’s perspective. There are several reasons why anyone having a website built should avoid Flash as well. Generally, once I give my clients a few pointers from my “Why I hate Flash” checklist, they change their mind as well, so I thought I’d share my list here.
1. Flash is incompatible with most mobile devices. This means anyone viewing your Flash website with most tablets or a smartphones won’t see the Flash. You can get by if the Flash is just a small part of the website, but if your entire website is created in Flash, you might as well forget it.
2. People have to install Flash software on their computers to view your website. Other technologies don’t require this.
3. Flash content is not compatible with search engines. This means that any text or keywords you include in your Flash website will not be read and indexed by search engines, making your website far more difficult to find and making optimization much more expensive.
4. Flash does not yet have very good compatibility for 64 bit Windows systems. This means a lot of folks with newer windows computers might have to make an extra effort to install a beta release of Flash, or it just won’t work at all. This eliminates a large group of website users.
5. There are other solutions out there such as jquery and ajax that will allow you to do a lot of cool things with your website without using flash. Why not use more advanced technologies that are compatible across most newer browsers and don’t require extra software to be installed to implement?
Everyone seems to want to do cool things with their website, which is fine to an extent, but sometimes subtlety is better. It might be cool when you first do your website, but people aren’t going to look at the car driving across your screen and think “wow that’s really cool”. Lets be honest, the days of background music, animated butterflies on your screen, and lengthy intros are over. People want to get right to business when they go to your website, so its time to start thinking about what cool features can I implement on my website that will help my users get where they’re going faster instead of holding them up and making them listen to your favorite Michael Jackson tune playing in the background.
Moral of the story… forget the Flash.