Flash Website Design Problems

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Flash Website Design Problems

Clients often want to use Flash website design for their webpages to make them look… well… flashy.

I certainly can understand the appeal of Flash website design and there are, no doubt, places for it. What Flash website design is really good for is creating highly interactive websites with lots of multimedia features involved in them. If you have a sort of funhouse themed website or a website that uses a great deal of animation, then Flash may be the way to go.

In addition Flash also has the benefit of making unusual fonts uniform in virtually all browsers and being a great platform for games (many will swear by it over Ajax for example).

So why do I try to steer most clients away from Flash website design?

Mainly, it is because of the effect Flash website design has on two very important groups, website indexers and a number of human visitors. First, Flash website design makes it difficult for spiders and the bots to index website pages. When they come upon sites that use Flash they cannot read them and so largely will leave them un-indexed. That means that when someone searches for your website on Google, those webpages will not appear because the Google Bot could not make any sense of them.

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No representation on Google means no visits from Google referred users, which will put a real damper on your web traffic.

Perhaps even worse however, is that many human visitors will have the same reaction as the Google Bot. They click on a link to your Flash website and then wait, and wait, and back out of it before your multimedia landing page has even finished downloading. Given that the average website visitor only stays on a site for about 2.5 seconds expecting them to stay extra means considerably raising the bar for your website’s success. Your visitors better really want to stay for what you have to offer.

Just as bad is that even if they do stick around in your Flash website, Flash websites are not particularly well suited to navigation. In most cases when a visitor hits the back link button at the top of their page they will leave your website rather than going to the previous page on your website—meaning that the visitor would have to start over again from the beginning, which most will be reluctant to do.

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Basically what all this means is that if you are contemplating having a Flash website design for your website, you should have a very good reason for it. It should not simply be because it looks cool the have an animated home page or a little cartoon explaining a particular feature of your product. For most graphic images, Javascript can actually deliver the functionality that you want without compromising SEO (Search Engine Optimization). A rotating image banner across the top of your page or photos on your bio page will not create problems for Search Engine Indexers. (In fact, if tagged properly they may actually help your SEO.)

So, put simply, Flash should be for genuine graphical needs where Java cannot do the job.

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