Flash is not always good for your website
A lot of companies love flash. They are good eye candy, attention catching, beautiful and elegant. They are very good in incorporating some of the shows that came out of the marketing department's brainstorming session. The question now is: Is it good for your business website?
Whenever possible, do not use flash on your website.
Flash presentation takes long to load and this is especially important if some of your would-be-clients are still using dial-up connections. People coming to your website are looking for information: information that will help them decide whether or not they will avail your products or services. There's no reason to deny them the information, causing their computer to slow down just so that you can present some moving images with marketing-esque phrases.
Some browsers do not have flash players readily installed with them. Moreover, flash player is updated separately from the browser. People who do not have flash players installed in their browsers will not be able to see your flash presentation. People who didn't update their flash players may or may not see the flash presentation depending on its backward compatibility.
Search engines do not see flash presentation. They see it like how they see embedded images. Whatever text you put in the flash presentation, search engines won't be able to see it and associate your website with the words in that text. Recently, Google has developed a way to index flash websites, which is even worse because Google shows lone SWF file in the search results instead of the whole web page on which it is embedded.
The worst offender here are the pure flash websites. That is, all the content of the website are in just one SWF file embedded on the home page. This kind of websites disable a lot of the fundamental functions of the web. For example, in a typical website, clicking on the navigation menu will deliver you to another page within the website. To go back to the previous page, all you need to do is to click on the back button. You cannot do this in pure flash website because when you click on the navigation, you are simply presented another part of the SWF file but you are still in the same web page. Clicking the back button will deliver you to another website, the one that you visited prior to accessing the pure flash website. You also cannot bookmark a specific section of a pure flash website; the only one that you can bookmark is the web page on which the flash is embedded.
Should in case you insist on using flash presentations, I suggest you keep it at minimum. Put stuff in it that are good eye candy but are otherwise non-essential to your website. Meaning, site visitors who cannot see your flash (or intentionally disabled flash in their browsers) can still access your website, find the information that they need, and contact you in case they need your products or services.
The only times when flash presentation is essential is when you need interactive presentations such as demonstrating laws of physics in a science website or in online-games like those that you can find in Facebook. For a typical company website that only needs to show what the company is all about as well as their products or services, flash presentation is not needed.
Posted under category: Website Usability
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