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To be or not to be Flash


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Should your website be in Flash or in HTML? The answer can make a difference to your business.

Flash Pros:

There are many compelling reasons for getting your website designed in Adobe/Macromedia Flash. Flash presentations are cool, have pizzazz and are great multimedia experiences.

  • Animations:

    Flash websites are ideal for such businesses as real estate that need to show moving panoramic views, virtual tours of a property, or stages of development from the plans morphing to a finished apartment building. Real estate presentations are often for a short period, the time it's expected to take to sell the property. The real estate agent sends the visitors to the website and doesn't depend on casual searchers finding it on Google.

    Flash animations are good for demonstrations of moving parts, or of tutorials. In fact anything requiring animation is often best produced using Flash.
  • Multimedia:

    Videos display on websites better if converted to Flash. Visitors are not asked to download a pluggin for thier browser.

    Flash files usually take some time to load, but this is not a problem if a visitor has been directed to look at the Flash website for a reason. Maybe the visitor has already expressed an interest in the subject of the presentation, e.g. a real estate property, and wants more detail. Maybe the visitor wants to see a tutorial, or a demonstration. Such visitors are captive audiences so they do anticipate the wait.

Flash Cons:

  • Slow loading:

    Visitors who are not captive audiences, are often not prepared to wait for Flash files to load, or are frustrated by the wait. Some websites are totally in Flash, even moving from one web page to another taking much time. Some visitors may make the choice to not wait and are then lost to the website.
  • Search engine listing:

    Search engines index websites on the words in the website's text. If the words are in graphic format (such as a Flash SWF file) instead of text format, then search engines cannot see them. If you can't copy and paste the words from the browser into Notepad or Word, then the text can't be read by search engines either.
  • Search engine ranking:

    Search engines rank websites on their order of relevance to a visitor's search query. If a website has little or no text then it is not as relevant as websites with a lot of text. Such websites need a great number of other websites linking to them, often hundreds, in order to be ranked as relevant to a search.

We know of a business owner who insisted, against his designer's advice, on his website being totally in Flash. He was jubilant when it did appear on Google as a new site for three weeks. His jubilance turned to despair when the website then disappeared out of sight.

Javascript can display movement, fade in photos and slide shows. CSS and javascript provide good navigation systems. We use Flash in websites, but only to animate something which needs animation and which won't delay loading the home page. We never replace text with Flash.


  • If the website needs animation, but is aimed at visitors who are directed there by specific marketing, a real estate display, a technical demonstration, or tutorial, then there are good technical reasons for the website to be built in Flash.
  • If the website needs animation, but is aimed at visitors searching the web, then only the animation should be in Flash. The home page especially should not be in Flash, but should have all the text required for a search engine's indexing.
  • Who are the targets of the website? Captive audiences don't mind waiting. Casual searchers may quit waiting and go look for other 'user friendly' websites.

About the Author

Ken McKay is an Australian website designer for small businesses. More information on web design is available at platypus websites -

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2007-10-24 01:32:09 in Computer Articles

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