The worst way imaginable for a website to be built is one entirely powered by Adobe Flash animation. I know of at least one workers’ compensation defense firm that has an all Flash website – and I feel sorry for them. Their clients probably never use their website. They’re squandering one of their best marketing tools.
Here are just a few of the problems with Flash websites:
- Bandwidth. A picture of the word “website” is much much larger than the text “website.” In a similar way, a Flash website is going to be much much larger than the same information presented in pure HTML. The bigger your website, the longer it will take for it to load.
- Maintenance. The smallest change to the website needs to be handled by the original web developer. If you “invest” in an all-Flash website, you’re basically hiring that web developer for life. With traditional websites, you can hire any code monkey to adjust your website.
- Unnavigable. Flash websites do not work with the browser’s “Back” button. If your users can’t navigate your website in a normal fashion, they will leave and never come back.
- Search Engine Optimization. Or, SEO, as it is known in the business. If your website is basically a bunch of moving pictures, it can’t be indexed by a search engine, so it doesn’t know what your website is about, so it doesn’t know when to show it to people who are searching for exactly the kinds of things you are trying to sell.
- Repeat Business. If your website is meant to be something people look at once and never return to, I suppose its fine. The problem with a Flash website is that it will not allow users to bookmark or link to particular pages. This means if your clients really love a particular page on your site they can’t e-mail the link to their co-workers!
I know why web developers sell Flash websites. These websites show off how great you are at creating swooshing logos and nifty pages transitions. And, if your client ever needs a little change, they have to come back to you or pay someone else to build them a website from scratch.1
I also know why businesses invest in Flash websites. They want something stylish and unique. In reality all truly successful website forgo snazzy animations for functional user friendly pages. If Amazon, eBay, and Google don’t build their websites out of Flash, why should you?
This isn’t to say that Flash animation doesn’t have its place. It think its great for product demos, presentations, and banner ads. Its an excellent way to present information in a graphical format. That said, you should never ever purchase a Flash website.
Website Development Tips:
- Never build a site out of Flash.
- Never use Flash to show words.
- If its good enough for Google, its good enough for you.
- Focus on what your customers want to see, not what you want to show them.
- Make it easy for your customers to tell people about you.
- Heaven forbid you have a new hire or, you know, the law changes. [↩]