As trends go through their natural cycle, the general public’s definition of ‘attractive’ websites alters. There’s no doubt that websites built in flash can be breath-taking. Wonderwall, AgencyNet 2.0 and Waterlife are a sweet reminder of the creativity and innovation that designers and multimedia developers are capable of.
However, while Adobe Flash provides what many ambiguously call the ‘wow factor’, it inevitably comes accompanied with unwanted baggage. The following are the main reasons why your website should not be built with Adobe Flash:
- Lack of content management
Websites nowadays are almost all CMS-driven. This means that the client or administrator can manage and maintain the content of the website instantly and without any technical knowledge. With the spread of Content Management Systems like WordPress and Drupal (both free and open-source), a website will never be considered of real value if its not constantly updated with fresh content (see my post on what makes a good website). With Flash, it’s almost impossible to have a proper CMS and therefore leaves you relying on a Flash developer to make any changes, and that within itself, is a tedious, time-consuming process. We’re at an age where sharing information has become as easy as tapping a button on your phone while on the road, the last thing we need is wasted (and costly) time on changes and updates
- Search indexing and SEO
There’s no real way for Google search to completely grasp the content of a Flash file. There are methods to give a general definition to the content, and therefore show up in some results, but for the most part, a Flash website’s left in the dark. Imagine putting so much effort in adding fresh, valuable content to your website as a social media tool to attract users, only for search engines to remain oblivious to it and therefore not bring you the interested crowd
- Loading time and performance issues
The main attraction in Flash is the reason behind its poor performance. Very rarely will you come across a website built in Flash that does not require significant time to load. And if it doesn’t, then it’s usually a lame, boring website that couldn’t been perfectly implemented with HTML and CSS instead. It is challenging to tolerate many seconds, and sometimes minutes, for a website to load
- Lack of support across the different platforms
When the iPhone first came out, users were too distracted with the eye candy to realize the lack of support for Flash. Now, with the overwhelming spread of the iPad, the inability to view flash websites in a number of devices has become a major issue of concern. In an open letter written in May, CEO Steve Jobs wanted to prove to the few doubters that Apple’s sole interest is to close all of their products, make them proprietary, and enforce its own way. The announcement also served as an indication that we might never see Flash playing on any of Apple’s gadgets again. If your website is not showing up on iPhones, iPods and iPads, then you’re losing grip on your audience
- Instability of Flash player
Flash player has been known to crash across the different browsers. Firstly, there was the famous bug that caused issues with Flash player 10 on Firefox that many blamed the open-source browser for, but later, many using Internet Explorer and Windows 7 shared similar complaints. The fact that this happened after Flash has been around for years is worrying for the future
Moreover, the arrival of HTML5 and CSS3 (along with the usual jQuery plugins) facilitates the switch
It’s far from an identical replacement, but the combination of HTML5 and CSS3 is extremely promising. Amongst other features, together they provide simple ways of embedding video and audio into websites. You also get full control of the appearance and can make all sorts of movements, transitions and animations. In fact, there is an entire cartoon built using only HTML5, CSS3 and jQuery called the CSS3 Man. Here’s a presentation of how HTML5 and CSS3 will shape on the new Firefox:
Therefore, save yourself the hassle, be reachable, be light-wight and fast, appear correctly on all platforms, and avoid technical issues. It’s best to leave Flash behind and embrace the full potential of the alternatives while it’s a choice, before you’re forced to do so.