Flash: is it time to move on?

I heard Michael speak at my BNI chapter recently about Flash and asked him to write a guest article for my blog.

Flash based websites and photo galleries have long been the darlings of photographers; and not without good reason. Used to best effect they are capable of presenting beautiful portfolio style websites in a way that really does enhance a photographic collection. In short they can be visually stunning.

So what is the problem? Unfortunately Flash has a couple of quite significant drawbacks that suggest a limited future in mainstream website construction for anything other than quite specialist applications.

Problem 1: Ensuring Flash content can be read by Search Engines
In recent years it is true that Google have improved their ability to both index and link to content embedded in a Flash based website. It is not without difficulty though. Text based content needs to be stored in external XML files and special linking arrangements are required to enable search engine listings to link back to specific sections of the website. In other words, it is a work-around at best.

Problem 2: Apple’s mobile operating system does not support Flash
The consequence of this is that any iPad or iPhone user cannot view a Flash based website or image gallery . . . at all! If you think that is of little consequence consider this: by 2014 Morgan Stanley has predicted that they believe there will be more mobile devices accessing the Internet world wide than desktop PCs. From a business perspective, this simply cannot be ignored.

In truth I suspect that Apple, rather than being a bit off the pace, have just been among the first to see the writing on the wall. With the introduction of HTML5 and CSS3 and the great improvements of lightweight Javascript libraries such as jQuery, the need for Flash to create and embed special effects is rapidly declining. In short, there are now alternatives, and those alternatives are standards compliant and present content in a manner that enables it to be fully indexed by search engines without any workarounds.

As alluded to in the title – if you currently have a Flash based website for your business, it may be time to move on.

Michael Hayes,
TOSD Web Design

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