Web Design

The Disadvantages of Flash

Adobe’s Flash technology has recently come under much debate in the design community. One one side of the debate, the strong willed Flash designers and developers, who have invested time and money into learning and developing for the Flash platform. And the other side, are the web designers and developers who want nothing more than a standard, HTML 5 to rule. I want to take a look at why Flash might be bad for your next website.

Flash not only distracts users from a website’s content, but also poses many design problems.  In an age where data and information is simultaneously linked for better search output and visibility, Flash has slowly started to take a back seat. The issue is not the technology itself, as we have all seen the benefits of incorporating Flash into websites or any platform development. It is the usability that has come to suffer from extensive Flash use. Design based on interaction is key to online success. With agile workflow forming the core of many development teams, creative and design specialists understand the limitations caused by heavy Flash usage.

For browsers to function properly, plug-ins are required. But, unless, Flash uses guidelines is consistently implemented, Flash will restrict user experience – plug-ins or no plug-ins.

The following are some of the common disadvantages of using Flash:

  • The browser back button is de-activated by default on flash heavy websites. This causes problems because even if the back button is not disabled, pressing it or clicking on it will take the user to the previous page and not the previous visible state.
  • Web navigation becomes slightly difficult as web links in Flash websites do not change colors unlike standard non-Flash websites, where would know the links visited based on link color. Or even worse is the developer can create a non-standard way of displaying links, requiring the user to learn each site’s user experience.
  • Accessibility is also the other thing that is restricted by the use of Flash, as those who need to view larger text, will have a hard time browsing a website.
  • Because texts and links are embedded in Flash websites and applications, search engines will not read it, decreasing the website’s rankings in search engines. There has been some improvements in the SEO area of Flash, but the issues are still present.
  • Additionally, Flash also restricts a website’s access from many mobile devices, mainly iPhone..

What Next?
Again, the technology is not being blamed for anything. This particular technology redefined user experience in many ways previously considered unimaginable. However, user experience in terms of content access and website rankings in search engines, Flash will not serve anyone any good. The best advice is to first and foremost consider the content of your website, and any alternative methods of showcasing it.

Use Flash for effective use of rich internet media. But it is critical that you voluntarily choose not to incorporate Flash in your websites where it does not add value. Providing alternative access to your websites other than Flash will also help greatly in keeping visitors, in case your Flash website doesn’t behave.

So use HTML and CSS for websites, and keep Flash for rich media applications.

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