It happened again just this week. I was working at my computer sending out our holiday eblast when a email reply arrived. “In the next month or so I would like to talk to you about my website that is not visible on my sweet new iPad due to Apple’s aversion to Flash content.” (Apple’s mobile iPod, iPhone and iPad platforms do not support Flash and there is little chance that Steve Jobs will change that because he wants to protect future revenue.)
My heart went out to him, because I know how much he paid creating this awesome Flash website. Without adequate information on Flash and its drawbacks, clients don’t stand a chance of making an informed decision.
Now, I get to deliver the bad news to this potential client that all the time and money they spent creating this gorgeous site went to waste. In order to optimize their site for search engines and make it more user and smartphone friendly, it must be redesigned.
Building SEO friendly Flash sites is hard because everything is in a single .swf file and even though the file may have different pages, the site is still held within a single page. Search engines will have a terrible time crawling the site if it is not coded properly. So, if you care about SEO, don’t even think about going fully Flash!
Flash sites often are developed and designed without much thought given to the overall user experience and especially for the mobile web. Companies that fail to optimize their sites for either, not only let their customers down, they are loosing future business!
Flash websites take longer to load as compared with a site that uses HTML. Most people don’t want to wait or have the patience to sit and watch your beautiful Flash website load in their browser. Believe it or not, there are still people who use dial-up or have limited bandwidth internet connections and you will lose impatient visitors.
Flash is great for entertainment purposes! Take Facebook for example, a lot of their games are powered by Flash and millions of users love them. But, these sites or applications don’t need to worry about search engine optimization.
It is easy to get all excited about how cool Flash can be, but you need to step back and think about your user. Slick animation can be distracting and even take away from your product or service. In conclusion, use Flash carefully because you don’t want to annoy or overwhelm your visitors.