There’s Value In Standing Still: Why Your Site Can Live Without Flash Animation
Web design is a field that sees more than its share of rapid development and technological innovation. The problem is that it’s hard to tell which new technologies will become Internet-wide standards and which ones will be flashes in the pan. It is sad to say, but Macromedia Flash falls much closer to the latter end of this scale, and you should exercise extreme caution in using it on your own site. Here are the most important reasons why:
Putting together a Flash animation is a very expensive process, in terms of both money and time. It calls for a specialized set of skills to get good results out of Flash, and hiring someone who has those skills can take a significant bite out of your website budget. Learning how to produce good Flash animations yourself will take tremendous amounts of time, and the results make it hard to justify. Even in the very best case, where someone on your team has extensive flash skills, you still have to consider the fact that the time they spend on animation could be employed refining other parts of your site or generating reams of ordinary written content.
Another excellent reason to avoid Flash is the negative impression it makes on many visitors to your website. In order to view your animation, your visitors will need to have the proper software installed and up to date on their computers. If they do have the right software, they’ll still have to sit through an extended loading process. Once they get to the animation itself, what they’re presented with is a bit of eye candy that’s long on pizazz but short on meaningful content. Worse still, even the best-designed Flash animation will significantly reduce the amount of control visitors have over their browsing experience, and this is not something anybody enjoys.
If you want another reason to stay away from Flash, consider the effect it can have on your site’s search engine performance. Although the search engines continue to invest tons of resources in refining their indexing algorithms, they still have a great deal of difficulty indexing Flash content. The effort you put into building an animation will never make an impact on your search engine ranking, whereas an equivalent amount of time devoted to producing high-quality written content can give your results page ranking a huge boost.
Although it should be quite clear at this point that this article is not in favor of Flash, that does not mean that you cannot use it in any situation whatsoever. There are three keys to employing Flash in ways that will not hurt your site or drive away your visitors. First, always make sure that your visitors arrive at an animation by choice. Second, present an animation only if you are confident that your visitors will want to see it. Third and finally, never put information in a Flash file that is not reproduced somewhere else on your website.
When it comes to online innovations, technology frequently outpaces the demands of Internet users. Web designers often have to fiddle around with a new technology for quite some time before finding a practical application for it. In the case of Flash, years of fiddling have not produced a really indispensable role for it to play in your website. You can definitely put together a great site without making use of it.