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Why Flash-Based Websites Are a Bad Idea

Though it peaked in popularity a few years ago, Flash is still being used by many developers to build websites. On the surface, it appears to offer quite a few benefits – it’s great for animations, supports video and games well, can be used in most web browsers, and allows image replacement for special fonts. And last, but certainly not least, it just plain looks cool. But there are quite a few downsides to using Flash that you might want to think about before you decide to incorporate the technology into your website.

Difficult for search engines to read
Because search engine web crawlers can’t read the text or content of a Flash-based website very well, it’s quite difficult to optimize this type of website. The fact that you can’t add alternative text  to the images in a Flash site just adds to the problem, as does the fact that the links are not standard HTML links and are difficult for the web crawlers to follow. Altogether, these issues make it hard for Flash website to rank well in the search engines.

Requires a plug-in
In order to properly view a Flash website, the web browser must have the Flash Player plug-in installed. Oftentimes the plug-in is pre-installed, but this isn’t always the case. In fact, computers in some public places such as school or libraries do not allow the plug-in to be installed for security reasons; this means users on those machines won’t be able to view Flash websites.

Usability is impaired
On a typical Flash site, some of the web browser buttons don’t function as expected. For example, if you click the Back button on a Flash site, you may just find yourself not on the previous page, but instead back at the starting point of that site, or even back to the previous website. This decreased usability makes it a real drag for users to navigate a Flash site, and may end up driving them away for good.

Can be slow to load
Because Flash-based websites are generally image-intensive, they can be large in size and slow to download. For broadband users this may be no big deal, but not everyone is on a high-speed network. While graphical countdowns can help by showing the time remaining to load, many users in today’s must-have-it-now world won’t bother waiting, and will move on to another website.

While the “flashiness” of a Flash-based website may make it an appealing option, for many the drawbacks far outweigh the benefits. Think carefully before going this route – Flash is a powerful tool, but it’s not always the right choice for a website.

About Lori Mattern

Lori Mattern is Content Manager at bMighty2, where she writes for our blog, helps manage our Facebook page, and develops content for clients. She lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, and received her bachelor's degree at Purdue University and her master's degree at Ohio State University. When she's not hunched over her computer keyboard typing furiously away, she enjoys reading, working out (yes, really), and boning up on her mad WordPress skillz.

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