Yes and no.
Adobe Flash is a “multimedia platform used to add animation, video, and interactivity to web pages.” – Wikipedia.
It’s been very useful to developers for many years. At Wood Street, we’ve used it to develop all sorts of things… animations, video, eCommerce apps, presentations, Interactive CD Roms, etc.
Flash was an effective tool and we used it a great deal. But, it did come with its own set of issues…
- It requires an additional skill set and therefore is more expensive to develop properly
- It can be a barrier to effective SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- It is much more expensive to update and maintain
- And more recently, it is not supported on Apple products like the iPhone or iPad
This last point has been fodder for a very public battle between Adobe and Apple. Apple has flat out refused to support Adobe Flash and Adobe has been anything but quiet about their disappointment in this. Don’t cry for Adobe though. They will be just fine. If you’ve ever purchased their Creative Suite, you know that they make money. And pretty much every web design and graphic design professional has a version of it.
So the next time someone in your organization starts leaning toward developing any part of your website in Flash, ask them these questions…
- Is it necessary? What purpose does Flash serve the user? If none, don’t use it.
- How will the use of Flash impact accessibility? If you are concerned about users with disabilities, Flash could be a hindrance. Readers for the blind cannot read Flash files for example.
- Is SEO important? It used to be that Flash was not indexable by Search Engines. Nowadays you can develop Flash so that keywords are visible but it takes time and therefore will be more expensive. Of course, if the developer does not know how to do this or simply does not do it, then your Flash piece will be invisible to search engines.
- Are your users going to be viewing your site on an iPhone or iPad? If even a portion of them are, consider something else. You can do some neat things with animation and HTML5 and it will be supported by these devices.
Remember to consider the user and your desired outcome before you use Flash. You can have the most amazingly animated site with all kinds of swooshes and sound effects and video, but if no one sees it, no one sees it.
Unless you have millions to spend on promotion, you need your site to attract visitors on its own. Flash will hinder this way more than it helps.
Am I missing something? Is Flash more useful than I give it credit? Let me know in the comments below…