October 21, 2010 / In Uncategorized /
Using and Misusing FlashIt’s a common scenario. You see a particular look on a website and like it. You ask the site owner how it was achieved, and he tells you, “Flash!” So you go to your web designer asking for Flash. In web design, there are a lot of ways to achieve one effect. Sometimes Flash is perfect, and sometimes it’s absolutely not what you need. What’s great about Flash? It allows a high level of interactivity at your website. It allows almost limitless options for animation, it lets you manipulate and combine files from Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, and it’s absolutely unbeatable for games. What’s not so great about Flash? It can be slow, it can interefere with search and have negative consequences for SEO, and it isn’t accessible to everyone who visits your site — for example, people visiting with iPad, or people using assistive technology because of limited vision. Flash indexing by search engines has improved, but Google tells us that this still applies only to text, not to images in Flash (including words in images). So how can you tell whether Flash is right for you?
- How important is interactivity at your site? Do people come to play games, watch cartoons, or use highly interactive educational content? If so, then Flash is for you, no question. Do your visitors come to find your phone number and hours quickly on their way to your brick and mortar business? Then they probably aren’t in the mood to play or to watch animation, and they won’t value the Flash experience.
- How important is SEO for your site? Are you trying to get top placement in a highly competitive online environment or is your website mostly a service for customers, with a well-placed old domain and very little competition? Search engines index well optimized Flash better than they used to, but Flash still has limitations when it comes to search optimization.
- How important is being cool to your site? Flash allows the creation of very hip, fun sites that do cool things when visitors come to play with them. An ice cream parlor or clothing can stand out from the crowd by having Flash elements on the website. The city government or a law firm might find this aspect of their site much less important.
- Avoid having a completely Flash site. Some people won’t be able to see it, and search engines may not get as much out of it, so be wise and have basic information in HTML. Save Flash for the parts of your site where it really makes a difference.
- Avoid using Flash for navigation. Search engines may not crawl as well when your navigation is in Flash.
- Make sure that your Flash is built correctly. Slow load times, invisibility to search engines, and misbehavior on mobile devices aren’t so much problems with Flash as they are problems with Flash development. Skillful designers and developers make all the difference.
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