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The Pros & Cons to Pure Flash Animation Websites

Over the last few years, there has always been the dispute between website designers and clients on websites developed completely in Flash & Actionscript. While they are definitely visually eye catching, they also have a strong negative effect.

Some Pros of having a Flash Website Design:

  • Eye catching
  • Interactive
  • Easy to integrate certain features such as sound loops
  • Reasonably Fast Loading

Some Cons of having a Flash Website Design:…

  • NOT Search Engine Friendly. Search engine bots are unable to view the text within a flash website. This is by far the most crucial.
  • Difficult to update. Whenever there is an update, the original source file (.fla) needs to be edited.
  • Sometimes not user friendly and difficult to navigate.
  • Browser compatibility issues – Not all users have flash installed in their browser. If flash is not installed, your site will not be displayed.
  • Longer time to develop.

There is a perfect median to having Flash in a website by integrating it into the web page itself as opposed to creating a strictly Flash website. This way, the website can have the same eye candy but at the same time, be search engine friendly and user friendly.

  1. Web Designer

    Personally flash based sites are good for entertainment sites..

  2. Mike

    This is completely untrue. Most major search engines now have a way to search at least the text based content of a Flash site. Most real Flash/AS devlelopers also handle this using modern techniques that publish the content in html to the page as well.

    Flash sites are not difficult to update. Like most HTML sites, the vast majority of Flash sites are now database driven and using a custom CMS framework.

    Can’t argue the navigation but this is just as true of HTML sites.

    Flash is installed on more than 90% of all computers and developers and designers area aware of the issues. Once again, the smart ones know how to handle this issue. If they aren’t, it really is on them. This should be one of those things that just happens now when a project makes it to production.

    I don’t really think production is any more lengthy one way or the other. The right team is going to have people in place to handle these issues.

  3. Web Developer

    (I realize this article is from 2008. However, incase a new user passes along this info):

    I don’t fully agree. Although you didn’t mention it, there are many ways (a quick Google search) that Flash sites are able to be indexed to searches. Incorporating XML dynamic content and Deep Linking are two of the most common.

    The More You Know…

  4. Stephen Popov

    Good article! However there are some points I would like to make.

    1. Google CAN read flash, it just has to be created using the right techniques (which often negate the visual benefit of the flash site).

    2. Properly done, there are white-hat SEO techniques that would enable you to overcome the negatives to Flash based web design.

    Stephen Popov
    Cardinal Web Solutions

  5. Nico

    One final thing… it is difficult to track customers on a flash website. Speaking from a customer analytics and data perspective this is annoying. For instance, you can’t tell if a customer watches a video embedded in flash. If video watching is indicated for Lead Scoring, or a CRM campaign indicator then you can’t track properly.

  6. Tiggerito

    Search Engines can index Flash like they can index PDF files and JavaScript. It does not mean they treat the results as important.

    SEs also have a big difficulty in determining a structure to the data they index inside a Flash file. A single Flash file is still a single page to search engines, even if it contains 1000s of pages worth of data. And like AJAX, if it loads data dynamically, the content is never seen.

    You can mirror a Flash website with an html website, and even create entry points in a flash file to mimic the effect of multiple pages. It’s all hacks that have their own SEO and user experience issues.

    It’s a bit like the old argument of using frames. And I think that argument has been solidly won. Frames are bad. (iframes for non indexable content is an exception)

    Unless you have a strong need for the entertainment flash can provide, or no need for search engines, it’s not worth it.

    Or just use flash for adverts. You don’t want search engines to see them anyhow.

    One final point, while I’m ranting. Operating systems and browsers follow a standard GUI system to make life easy for users. Buttons look like buttons and scroll bars work. With flash it seems every developer has to re-invent everything, and in the process make their interfaces un-usable.

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