Flash Websites: To Build or Not To Build?

For every person who advocates Flash, which is indeed a very fascinating and expressive form of technology, there’s another who regards Flash as pure evil. Flash-based websites either evoke admiration or disapproval, and this can be easily explained. Those who put visual effects and interactivity first, will always be among Flash fans, while those who focus on leads and SEO will avoid Flash like the plague.

Why is it so?

Let’s see why Flash have always been a topic of strong feelings and mixed opinions.

Pragmatic HTML vs Expressive Flash

Flash technology was first introduced in 1996. After several years of struggle for acceptance it was put into widespread use. It quickly became a popular tool enabling designers to add streamed video and audio players, animated elements and other interesting, interactive features to websites.

Although Flash does provide end users with unique experiences and can substantially liven up any website, usage of Flash is declining these days. Take website builders, for instance: Wix and MotoCMS which used to rest exclusively on Flash technologies either rejected them completely or added HTML editors to the system.

Wix which is now one of the most popular site makers (powering more than 40 million websites) used to be a Flash-based platform (2007-2012). In March 2012, Wix introduced a new HTML5 editor replacing the Adobe Flash technology. This move was extremely successful, resulting in 25 million new users.

Below is an HTML website built using Wix website builder (taken from their ‘Wix of the Day’ section): http://www.krooom.com/

Wix Website Example

Similar to Wix, MotoCMS also started as a Flash-based website builder. As of today, it offers both Flash and HTML templates. Instead of rejecting Flash, they’ve decided to make it as SEO-friendly as possible. So, each Flash website built using MotoCMS has two versions: Flash site (seen by users) and HTML version (seen and indexed by search engines).

Below is a Flash website built using MotoCMS website builder: http://www.outourdoor.com/

MotoCMS Website Example

The cons of Flash:

  • Loading time. Usually, flash-laden sites load longer than their HTML-based fellows. Long loading time isn’t good for lead-oriented websites.
  • Navigation. Many don’t like Flash just because it makes them feel helpless and stupid. They often have hidden menus, sophisticated features which can’t be used at their finest at once – only after meticulous exploration.
  • SEO-unfriendliness. Though Google promises to dig deeper into Flash, Google Team recommends using HTML for content and navigation. They encourage website owners to reserve Flash for decorative purposes.

The pros of Flash:

  • Ideal for animation. Flash is initially developed for this purpose, so it handles the task very well.
  • Makes excellent visual impression. Flash is catchy and eye-pleasing, especially if used wisely.

Unlike Flash, HTML content weighs less and is indexed by search engines impeccably. In other words, your website will load faster and have better chances to get higher rankings. HTML websites help Google bots analyze each piece of content, including images (if you add alt tags). Besides, HTML sites perform better on mobile phones and tablets.

SEO experts recommend using HTML for most sensible information, while usage of Flash should be restricted. Several animated elements are enough to give you website a little extra oomph, draw attention and keep your visitors intrigued :).

About Howard Steele

Hi! My name is Howard Steele, and I can't survive a day without writing a technology-related post :). Most of these are website builders reviews and comparisons that I publish on my personal website superbwebsitebuilders.com.

Comments

  1. Hey Howard, If we only want to go with good user interface than flash is good option. But we want to make it seo friendly than avoid flash because flash sites are some times takes more time to load so user close the site and we lose than user who come up with low internet connection.

  2. Not sure why anyone would consider Flash nowadays.

    It doesn’t work on an iPad or iPhone, takes ages to load on a PC or laptop and unless you have the HTML backdrop Google cant ready anything.

    Flash = Vanity
    HTML = Sanity

  3. Howard,

    When I built my site I tried to incorporate flash but it slowed it down a ton and I couldn’t get anywhere with the SEO. Also, as stated above, it made my site look terrible on any mobile device. I think the cons far outweigh the pros for using flash over HTML.

  4. Hi Howard,

    The main reason of not using Flash is its unfriendliness to SEO, and its really hard for slow internet users to surf flash website.

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