These are some of the questions you have to consider before building a Flash website or a website with more than 70 percent Flash elements.
This is what a WooRank diagnosis of a sample Flash-based site shows you in its Website Review Report.
Flash elements give a visual impact on websites that increase their aesthetic value and are presumably more attractive than HTML or CSS elements. Take for example, the use of sliders (or carousels) in websites. But homepage sliders affect SEO, especially when coded in the flash format.
I don’t recommend a web site in Flash but, if you have some elements in Flash, you will have to optimize it for SEO. For instance, if you have a flash button on your site, you must try adding HTML elements to it. You must embed flash files into the HTML and add descriptive data such as header, title and anchor text to it. Read this article, to get more tips to optimize your site’s flash elements for search engines.
Full flash websites are mostly for those businesses that benefit from Flash content, such as movie and photography sites, gaming sites and sites for kids. Even these will better work with other technologies, like HTML5.
The following are the top five reasons why you should avoid having a Flash site created for your business:
- Poor Accessibility/Usability
- Mobile Incompatibility
- High Maintenance
- Not SEO-Friendly
- Slow Loading Times
We are going to look at each in detail in this post.
1. Poor Accessibility/Usability
Flash sites make great first impressions on the user, but after that the interest level is on a decline due to poor usability.
Take for example Solaris.mi.it. There are some major usability issues in this Flash site, as follows:
- Inability To Zoom: Try clicking Ctrl and ‘+’. You cannot zoom into the site if the fonts are not readable on your browser.
- Inability To Copy Paste Content: You cannot copy paste the text content, if you wanted to.
- Trouble Identifying Clickable Links: You cannot differentiate between links that are clickable and those that are not.
- No Back Button: There is no back button on the browser, for this site.
- Touchscreen Desktop Incompatible: Flash websites rely on mouse roll over actions, but there are many desktop screens out now that support touch functionality. In such cases, Flash websites can cause poor usability.
- Bookmarks Don’t Work: You cannot bookmark a particular webpage, as the URL in a Flash-based website is the same throughout.
- No Search Bar: If the user is looking for something in particular, they have no search bar to carry out a customized search within the website.
Nonetheless, there are some Flash sites who have built user-friendly sites such asdgestilistas.es. The business should only be lucky not to encounter users that have disabled Flash on their browser or devices.
So, in conclusion, whether or not you have paid attention to usability issues, a Flash-based site does lack in some user-friendly elements that only a HTML or CSS based site can provide.
2. Mobile Incompatibility
Apple does not support Flash files, which means you cannot access flash content from your iPhone or iPad. If you are aware of the market hold of Apple devices and know that most of your niche audience may fall in this category, you must not use Flash on your site.
Even if your niche audience uses smartphones that run on the Android OS, Flash for mobile support has been stopped by Adobe itself, making it even harder for Flash-based sites to reach its mobile audiences.
The only solution here would be creating a separate desktop site on Flash and a mobile site that is not on Flash. Something similar to what cheeseandburger.com has done.
Take a look at the screenshots taken from the desktop and mobile versions of the site, below:
In this particular example, the desktop version is a Flash-based site and the mobile version is CSS-based. The problem with having separate mobile sites is it should properly render on mobile devices.
If someone happens to share the mobile link and the link is opened on a desktop, the user accesses the mobile version on desktop, as opposed to what was originally intended.
You can check it for yourself by pasting this URL on your desktop – m.cheeseandburger.com.
3. High Maintenance
If you have to make modifications to the Flash files on your site, you would have to first edit the original uncompiled .flv file. It then has to be recompiled to .swf format and released back to the web server.
Flash updates are not easy to implement unless you have employed a developer who is an expert in data-driven client/server interaction, action script programming, graphics and animation and server-side application architecture.
In short, you will have to depend on a Flash development company or a Flash developer for any updates or errors on your Flash-based site. And, we are in the content era, if you have to create something new, do you want so much dependence?
The expense in both building and maintaining a Flash-incorporated site reduces the overall ROI of your business.
4. Not SEO-Friendly
Even after search engines such Google claim to index and crawl Flash sites and rank them on SERPs, the effort seems to be futile. This is so because Google officially announced to downgrade those websites that are not mobile-friendly.
There are many factors why Flash is said to be not SEO-friendly. They are as follows:
- Lack of distinct URLs: When the website is completely produced in Flash there is just one website URL for all the webpages within the website. Search engines cannot identify or rank a particular page based on its contents and the number of incoming links and other ranking factors, since they are all in the same location.
- Poor Usability: As mentioned in the very first reason (Poor accessibility/usability) of this post, Flash websites render poor usability.Also for instance, if I want to link to the contact page of http://www.solaris.mi.it/, the URL would be the same as the homepage, thus causing poor usability to the one who clicks that link.Poor usability is associated to bad SEO, as explained in this article titled 4 Ways Bad UX Is Hurting Your Website.
- No Paragraph Mark-ups: As you cannot add header tags to your Flash-based webpage, search engines will not be able to know the relative importance of content within a page.
- No Fresh Content: Google loves fresh content, but as discussed earlier updating a Flash website is a whole lot of hard-work. The rate at which fresh content can be added to an HTML or CSS site is much higher than that on flash websites.
- No External Links Earned: For some of the usability reasons mentioned above Flash containing pages or complete Flash-based websites are rarely linked by external websites. We all know how important external (read inbound) links are to ranking on search engines.
- Important SEO Elements Missing: Search engines that claim to crawl Flash content are relying on the text that you supply along with the Flash file. However, in a Flash-based site important SEO tags such as anchor text, header tags, meta title and meta description tags, alt text image tags, bold and strong tags are not included.
5. Slow Loading Times
Sometimes due to browser issues or the extensions on a browser, Flash content can load slowly. And sometimes the slow loading times are purely based a poorly programmed Flash content.
Flash websites are generally image-intensive and hence the large size of files can cause a slow download on certain instances.
Usually, to someone who has slower internet speeds, Flash videos show a graphical countdown. This may cause high bounce rates on a site due to slower loading times.
There are many such instances recorded in the Adobe community forum, but since the forum is under construction, I am not able to retrieve these complaints for you.
These were the top five reasons for not having Flash incorporated on major parts of your website. You can however, use Flash on ad banners that require animation.
6. Better Alternatives Exist
Flash is owned by Adobe and hence are controlled by licensing fees and development fees. Thus it costs a lot to develop and upgrade Flash. On the other hand, HTML5 and CSS3 are open source standards, coding in it is simple and cheap.