In their day, Flash-based websites awed and inspired. Web developers were strapped into an exciting rollercoaster, heading up. Graphic designers jumped along for the ride, creating intricate, dancing website intros. As we reached the early 2000’s, this rollercoaster slowed it’s steep ascent and even started downwards. What happened to the grand future of Flash? Here are nine reasons this breed of web design is going from flashcoaster, to crashcoaster.
1. Slows Your Site Down
It only makes sense that all that complicated Flash is going to take longer to load. Unless users are visiting your site for the sole purpose of checking out your cool Flash, they’re probably not going to expect such a long load time. Remember, since most sites aren’t Flash-based, users are accustomed to the time it takes for a “normal” site to load. If they don’t know you have it, they’re going to assume you have a spammy website or that something is wrong. Do you really want your website headline to be “Be patient, we use Flash”?
2. Hurts Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
If you’re looking to rank higher in search engine results, which everyone with a website is, you should know this about Flash-based websites: many search engines won’t credit you for content placed in Flash software. It’s a little known fact that the search engine spiders crawling the web are often Flash illiterate.
3. Demands a Plugin
To correctly view a Flash website, a Flash Player plugin must be installed. Who’s seen one of those horrid error “Flash not detected” screens encouraging you to download? Many hackers have created their own error screens to trick users into downloading malware.
It’s tough to convince internet users to download a program that will continue requiring many more downloads and updates. Public computers for users at work and school often don’t have Flash installed leaving them in the dark as well.
4. Not Compatible on all Devices
Compatibility is right up there with SEO in importance. Some users will be able to find Flash sites in Google with the new workaround, but what about when they click on the site? It’s no secret that not everyone has Flash downloaded. While HTML is in 100% of browsers, Flash is hit or miss. In the past, many desktops had Flash pre-installed.
Apple announced more than five years ago that they will no longer be doing this because of security reasons. Flash isn’t compatible at all for any any iPad, iPhone, or iPod. The majority of Android users must seek it out for download, it’s not preinstalled.
With the number of mobile-only internet users exceeding the number of desktop-only users in the U.S. as of 2015, compatibility is undeniably significant.
5. Bad User Experience
A general guide is if a website visitor has to spend more than 5 seconds looking for information, they’re probably going to leave. Flash material is typically distracting and important content can be lost in the confusion. Websites should look nice, but they have practical purposes to serve as well.
If you are browsing different sites looking for a product, do you really want to sit through a one minute Flash intro? Instead of sticking around to investigate a hectic website, users will often make a beeline to the “back” button to escape the chaos.
6. Losing Google’s Blessing
It’s a cold, dark world if you aren’t on team Google. Effective in July 2016, Google has announced they will no longer accept Flash-based ads. All ads will have to be coded in HTML5 from 2017 and on. As for SEO, although they have developed workarounds to help Flash sites rank unlike most search engines, their help page still warns:
‘Google can index most types of pages and files (detailed list).
In general, however, search engines are text based. This means that in order to be crawled and indexed, your content needs to be in text format.’
7. Unreliable Security
Adobe Flash has had a large number of security problems. Although they have been steadily “patching” these holes, the confidence of Flash users is still shaken. Check out this post from Krebs on Security:
‘Adobe’s latest patch for Flash (it has issued more than a dozen this year alone) fixes at least 34 separate security vulnerabilities in Flash and Adobe AIR. Mercifully, Adobe said this time around it is not aware of malicious hackers actively exploiting any of the flaws addressed in this release.’
8. Big Price Tag
Flash websites are known for being expensive. There are a few reasons for this.
- Many developers refuse to create Flash websites because of the above reasons or they do not know how to. This allows the remaining developers to charge more.
- Adobe has control of licensing and development charges. There is a fee for developers to use their platform, as well as additional upgrade fees.
- Flash websites are design-heavy, translating to a lot of code. This coding takes longer and drives prices up.
9. Most Successful Websites Don’t Use It
Okay, of course you can find pretty sweet looking ones, but what about the websites we use daily? The big names we know and love like Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, and eBay… Not one of them have fancy Flash displays. Following the security instances, Mozilla Firefox has disabled the Flash plugin by default, Amazon banned it from advertising, and other companies are quickly following suit.
The Proof is in the Pudding
Don’t get us wrong, we enjoy the creativity of a nice looking Flash site as much as anyone else. Unfortunately, their popularity peak in the 90’s has been making a slow descent even in the past five years as shown above. There’s literally a website dedicated to destroying Flash. No joke, take a look at it yourself.
So what’s the alternative for those of us who have decided against Flash? There is traditional website design. If you are interested in Flash because of the unique design elements, web developers can create custom layouts to fit your business with traditional design well.
If the above problems with Flash-based websites are resolved in the future, we’ll be sure to rethink our opinion. Besides, who doesn’t like to root for the underdog? That is – if your money isn’t tied into it.