Flash: Friend or Foe?

Macromedia Flash is spreading rapidly across the Internet and many web designers and developers believe Flash, as it is commonly called, is the future of Internet design. The use of Flash includes moving graphics, sounds, motion, and interactivity. These are great from a graphics standpoint although the areas most important to web surfers are content, speed and simple navigation. Of course, Flash has its benefits it has its drawbacks as well and an evaluation of both the pros and cons of Macromedia Flash will help you determine whether Flash is your website’s friend or foe.

Flash Pros

Flash is a great way to allow web surfers to view a product demonstration on your website. If you have the need to include a product demo on your site then Flash might be for you.

Graphic designers may want to use Flash for their portfolio to showcase their skills. However, use it wisely and take into consideration loading time for users with low bandwidth connections.

Also, Flash is the mainstay for online games on sites such as Yahoo! and other sites that offer online interactive video games. As a result, if your site offers video games or demos of video games then Flash might be your friend.

If you have a site with little decoration so to speak then a small amount of Flash incorporated in the banner or in some other way that will not affect the speed of your page might be a good option. It will certainly dress up your page a little bit.

Flash Cons

Websites designed with Flash can take a considerably long time to load for those with high speed connections, not to mention those with dial-up connections. Because of the time constraint, many people will leave the site and look for the information somewhere else. Web surfers want speed and are not willing to wait for graphics, no matter how amazing they are.

Flash is not always interactive, so it is more like watching a movie rather than participating in the presentation. So, long Flash presentations typically bore web surfers and they simply move on. Remember, speed is a main desire of all web surfers.

Getting ranked with the large search engines is difficult if not impossible for Flash sites simply because the search engines rank content and have not yet started ranking Flash sites to a high degree. So, if you use Flash on your site you might sacrifice traffic.

Flash websites designed with an older version of Flash can simply confuse web surfers because the back button does not work as one might imagine and the typical colors associated with viewed links are not the same purple as usual. These leads to uncertainty for web surfers and lack of the control they are accustomed to.

Now that you know all that Flash can do for your website, and all it can take away, you are better able to decide whether using Flash is beneficial for your website. However, make sure you always consider what web surfers are most interested in when viewing a website: speed, content and navigational ease. If you can’t provide that with Flash you are sure to lose some viewers and Flash is your foe. However, if you can incorporate Flash and still provide web surfers with what they want then Flash just might be your friend.