What is Flash Anyway?
First off… let’s cover what flash actually is. According to Wikipedia – “Adobe Flash (formerly Macromedia Flash) is a multimedia platform used to add animation, video, and interactivity to Web pages. Flash is frequently used for advertisements and games. More recently, it has been positioned as a tool for “Rich Internet Applications” (“RIAs”).” If you’re still not sure check out a few of our sites where we use it. Insectropolis, Gonzalez Insurance and Green Meadows all use Adobe Flash technology to add sound, movement and interactivity.
Why Flash is Good
There is no doubt that this technology adds beauty and appeal to a website. It can be pre-loaded so that you’re not waiting on multiple images to appear thus giving it a clean seamless delivery. One can insert music and sound, video, animation within one compact swf file – all things that users have come to expect from leading edge sites.
The other great advantage of flash is using your prime space on a website more effectively. We have traditionally always tried to use the area below the nav on our client’s site to communicate all the high points of their company. Without scrolling, a user should get the gyst of what the company does in a few frames of the flash and be able to navigate to relevant information from within the animation.
Why Flash is Bad
The main complaint about flash used to be it’s reliance on higher bandwidth connections. Now that the number of people with access to high speed internet connections has increased it’s not much of an issue anymore. The larger point to consider is that people are also moving toward viewing websites on mobile devices more. Apple’s “iPhone” seems to dominate the market especially with users who are intent on viewing lots of rich online material. The problem? iPhone doesn’t “see” flash. They completely ignore it. We need not elaborate on the ways this could be bad for you if your website has crucial information embedded into the flash.
It’s really a question of the typical user your website draws. For some, 95% of your clientele will be looking at your site from their office desk or at night on their home computers. Others may be businesses who rely on last minute inquiries and a site compatible with the iPhone could make or break the person’s connection with you. The good news is it isn’t ALL or NOTHING. There currently is one way to have your cake and eat it too.
Enter “Jquery”. J query is a programming language which in tandem with css can be used to creative simple animations and can do a fairly good job of mimicking fades and slide transitions in graphics. When we launched our brand new site we opted to go with this method below our navbar as opposed to flash. Although we sacrificed some of the more complex animations we’ve had in previous versions it means we’ll be viewable to all devices – and to us that was important.
Do Your Research and Discuss it With Us
There is no automatically “right” answer when it comes to this issue. When large fortune500 websites have opted to keep flash technology on their sites. When you get ready to do your website with us, talk to your typical clientele. Find out how likely someone looking for you on the web would be to find you on an i phone. Tell us your findings and we’ll help you decide which technology would suit you better.
Do your reading. Articles on Wired like this do a great job of explaining Apple’s motives behind excluding flash and you come to your own conclusions about whether they will change strategies and allow it on their devices in the future.