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Flash is NOT a cure-all

Rating: 5 votes, 1.80 average.
Over the years, as an intermittent Dynamic Drive Flash Guru, I have noticed a trend in utilizing Flash. This trend is one where Flash is being used in ways it probably shouldn't.

I am here to correct a few things. First of all, let's note that Flash is a tool. Flash, by its nature was developed to be a tool marketed for designers NOT developers. Flash is not an answer, it is not a web site building machine, it is not the be-all end-all of web design. It is a tool. Macromedia created a great and wondrous thing. I have been a fan, and hooked, since Flash 2. When Adobe took over I was worried, as I am not a huge fan of Adobe's tools. But Adobe has catapulted Flash into the next generation of online tools and added more notches to the Flash tool belt.

Most rookie designers and developers of websites run into a problem at some point in their process. For a majority of these people the answer they find lies in Flash. I am not against this, but I am not all for it either. After the Google Robot Index craze of late 2006 if you ask any web designer or developer what their number one goal or concern is I guarantee you will hear three simple letters: S - E - O.

Do not, allow me to repeat, do NOT utilize Flash in a manner that the entire content of your site relies on Flash. Do not rely on Flash for 50% of the content of your site. And for heaven's sake, do NOT add music to your Flash (unless it is a game, or a radio control GUI).

We are here to make use of a great tool, not to over use it to death. And if you do your homework you will hear so many bad things you may be scared away from using Flash at all. Allow me to retort.

Flash is a tool. Used correctly it can create a site that people will flock to. Use it wrong and it will drive people away faster than you can blink. Guess which one those that bad mouth Flash all over forums and blogs tried to use it as?

Look, the main thing here is you want results. You want an eye catching web site that people love to come to, and you want the #1 ranking in Google. So let me talk a little bit about Flash and the dreaded SEO. Before I do, take a minute and open a new tab to I will wait. Okay, now, in the search box type this: (without the quotes) "cwot" hit the search button and tell me what the first result on the page is. I will wait.

If you said my website Clever Waste of Time, you are correct. Now, do me one other favor and click on the link to the main page from google's results. Tell me what you see. Holy Crap! A Flash navigation menu (and thanks, I did do that by hand). Now I ask of you one more favor. Click the Flash link on the top left named "Riddle" and tell me what you see there. Again, I will wait. Correct! ANOTHER Flash navigation menu. And yes, I did this one by hand as well. Thanks.

Okay, this brings me to my point. If you were to look at the source code of either one of those pages you would see there is no HTML SEO approved code. There is no "hidden HTML" that google will read and add to my SEO ranking. So how do I get the #1 ranking from a 4 letter acronym? Hard work and great content.

Six years ago when I started this site if you ran a google search for "cwot" you got 2 results, the computer acronym "complete waste of time" and the Monty Python Game A Complete Waste of Time. Great. I had to fight against one of pop cultures greatest comedy troops of all time, AND a very, very common acronym used in chat rooms since AOL first came out. But I did it. And there are 3 main reasons which I am trying to pass on to you: #1: GREAT CONTENT. If your site has crap no one wants to see, then no one will visit, and your ranking will suffer. #2 SEO isn't all it's cracked up to be. People make a lot of money trying to sell you BS lies that will somehow make people like to visit your site. Must be Internet Magic. and #3 The use of Flash correctly will NOT hurt your SEO rankings. The use of BAD coding will.

If you want a Flash site, I say go for it. But before you even begin, ask yourself one question: How else can I accomplish this? If you can not find another answer at all - use Flash.

While you are looking at my awesome navigation menus take a look at the rest of the site, notice the LACK of Flash? I have Flash on 2 of 18 main site pages. Two. Sparingly I use Flash. And you should too. Why? Flash is a tool, not a complete answer. (no, I don't count my navigation menus at the bottom of the pages, as they are backed up by CSS navigation and can be turned off.. but that is for another Blog Post)

You wouldn't use a hammer alone to build a house. Don't use Flash to build your online presence. Use it correctly, however, and you will be amazed at what it CAN do for you.

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  1. djr33's Avatar
    I think it's about a balance. In most sites, Flash is a bad idea. In the few that it's a good idea, it can be a great tool to expand what you can do on the web. But it's about that balance-- functionality and reliance on a plugin.
  2. BLiZZaRD's Avatar
    Good point, but one of the leading arguments about Flash is the reliance of the Flash Player Plug In, or having it enabled, or JavaScript enabled.

    The thing is, Flash has a 98+% reach, meaning it is installed on more than 98% of the computers out there. Doesn't mean it is enabled, but it means it is there.

    But if that's the biggest argument, then EVERYTHING on the web falls into that category. I can turn off JS, I can disable CSS, Hell I can even change the CSS on YOUR page to what I want to see. I can disable Java, Meta (redirects, referers, etc) Pop Ups, Images, colors, I can block entire sites... and on and on and on.

    Granted there are a TON of sites out there that should not be using Flash. And I can see why people say they hate it. But those same people are the ones that at some point will be using it because Flash is the only thing that will do whatever it is they want to do.

    Besides reliance, SEO is the second largest argument against Flash. and the point of my posting. Flash does not disrupt SEO rankings, bad coding and poor content do.

    But, yes, balance is key, as with anything.
  3. liming's Avatar
    one coin have two sides ,so I feel it's about a balance
  4. techno_race's Avatar
    The #3 (behind SEO and reach) argument against Flash has to be loading times. When designing a website, keep in mind that plenty of us still have dial-up, especially in rural areas such as my own. We can't get DSL or cable at my house--we're just between their ranges. (Argh.) That goes the same for many other people all over the world. We're left with only two options--dial-up and satellite. Don't give in to those "high speed internet by satellite" commercials. According to, even here, with the fastest satellite internet available, we only get 1.6Mbps download. Flash websites can get up to several megabytes per page. Remember that plenty of people have monthly usage caps, too!
  5. djr33's Avatar
    Even on a faster connection a slow server or other factor can make the loading time very long (just think to the last time that you loaded a flash-based game).
    Those "loading" bars in flash are useful to some extent, but that doesn't fix the problem above.
    In fact, if it takes a minute to load your page, there's a very good chance people will just leave before it loads.

    So when using flash, remember to keep things as simple as possible EVEN though you're using flash.

    Flash doesn't necessarily take a long time to load, but so often designers overuse it and include many graphics. For example, compressing images embedded into flash is just as important (if not more so) than the images you put directly into the html.
  6. BLiZZaRD's Avatar
    This is all true, however as with any scripting you need back ups and stand bys. In Flash's case the answer is a text link, a question or an option. If you use a preloader, you have to ask the question, would you like to skip this? If you have a large file to load you provide a text link telling the page to skip the intro, or whatever it is, and if there is no other alternative, you give them options.

    One of the most creative methods I have seen in an all Flash site was the introduction of a game.

    After the site had loaded 25% a link appeared asking if the visitor would like to play a Flash game (the game was similar to tetris) which took from 0% to 19% to load fully. If you clicked the link the game opened and the site continued to load in the background. By the time you had played a game or two the site was ready, and again another option.. the site is loaded would you like to proceed to the site or finish your game?

    Very ingenious I thought. And goes to show, if you think about what you are doing for a minute, there are solutions to everything.
  7. revellenab's Avatar
    In my opera browser Flash is not working sometimes. [url=]:)[/url] [url=]:)[/url] After few times of open any flash site or project it is restarting again and again.....[url=]:)[/url]