Why Your Small Business Shouldn’t Have a Flash Web Site

If you’re non-technical, Flash is a cool browser plug-in that adds interactive animation, video, and sound to web sites. You’ve probably seen some very pretty or very cool flash-based web sites. However, for most small businesses, building your site with Flash is virtual poison. Generally, you should avoid putting content, navigation, and crucial functionality into Flash.

Search Engine Optimization

The search engines have always had a tough time indexing Flash content. This might be getting a little bit better, but for best SEO put your content into P.O.S.H. (Plain Old Semantic HTML). The search engines have no trouble indexing this.

A web page properly coded with HTML has markers that can help search engines send you relevant traffic.

Accessibility

People who use adaptive technology, such as screen readers for the blind, can have difficulty navigating Flash applications. If the application is dependent on sound or animation, people who are hearing or visually impaired will have issues.

Mobile Platforms

While some mobile platforms (like Android phones) now have a Flash player, many more mobile devices will not be able to display Flash. When you consider that greater and greater numbers of people are accessing the web on their phones – it doesn’t makes sense to cut off potential customers.

Flash Can be Annoying

One of my pet-peeves is click on a link and super loud music, speech, or annoying sound effects automatically start playing. Another is when I’m looking for specific information about a company and I have to sit through a 3 minute movie before I can access their web site. Both of these things are good ways to lose me as a customer.

Flash is cool, and the animations can be quite slick. However, Flash doesn’t always make customer experience better.

The Right Way to Use Flash in Your Web Design

We like to think of Flash and other plugins (like Silverlight) like either a condiment or a side dish. Small animations that enhance customer experience, but don’t detract from the site when missing are fine. As a side-dish, a small flash application (like an interactive calculator) may be a good add-on.

Certain larger sites that serve video (like Youtube) have to rely on Flash to do what they do. For the most part, small businesses should stick to clean web design, developed with standard HTML.

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Posted on: by John Moore

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