To Flash, Or Not To Flash?

Flash has become a “must-have” for many web design companies and corporate as well as personal web sites.

used properly, it can be cool, eye-catching, and useful to visitors. otherwise, it’s often counterproductive.

my take on this is, it can be used very well as part of your web site, for example, a flash banner, a multimedia flash presentation of your products/services, a hi-tech flavor introduction of your company, etc.

a trend i see in the past few months, flash is used as video and audio clip player. video is getting hot nowadays, it gives very personal touch, present your products in a more straightforward way, it can be like a TV commercial, very powerful selling tool. the benifit of using flash to play video or audio on web site is, visitors do not need special plugin, publishers do not have to worry about different video formats.

however, you have to think twice before making your whole web site in flash. many web sites are in fact just flash movies, which i would not recommend.

if you think about it, none of the big guys develops whole web site in flash. there must be a reason. the simplest i can think of, the web site is meant to provide useful information to visitors, not only a cool presentation. how much information can you squeeze into one flash? thousands of pages of valuable product information, guides, tips, articles… no way.

secondly, flash is not indexable by search engines. they’re trying to, but not getting there yet. there’s workaround to feed text version to search engines while displaying flash version to human visitors. although it’s totally ethical, however it’s still cloaking that search engines may not like. search engines use algorithm to rank web pages, not human editors, algorithm, til today, cannot identify the cloaking is ethical or just dirty tricks.

thirdly, flash movie often takes much longer to download, especially if whole web site is built in flash, as it will be a big file. again, there’re workarounds to make flash start playing while still being downloaded. then you need very experienced flash designer.

one last point before i finish this post, many people including myself would click on “back” button whenever they see a flash is downloading as full page, be it intro or whole web site. fair or not, you have to accept it. it’s a habit developed from the old dial-up days.

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