There are numerous advantages and disadvantages of using flash in website create. The biggest shortcoming I expect, is that people still think that it is acceptable to create the site fully in flash. My collection of disadvantages should put you off that, but there are still reasons to use flash because of its advantages.

The advantages – Why should you use flash? Well, there are heaps of reasons for using Flash as elements of a web site – in the right circumstances.

Running videos is simple – If you want to include a small video on the website and you want it running straight away, then I find that converting it to flash is a good way to display it. Yes, there are other ways, but this is a good way of using flash as the file will stream and start the video running straight away, rather than waiting for the entire file to download.

A photo gallery looks excellent – A small and subtle flash animation can also add lots to the look of the website. For instance a well executed photo gallery might gently show off a few photographs to the reader to tempt them to stay and find out more.

The disadvantages – Yes, although I do create Flash files, I am not really a fan of them apart from the video aspect. So here is what I find are the problems with them.

Not everyone has flash installed! Looking through a few of my own web site statistics, potentially 4% of traffic do not have flash installed so will miss out on whatever element you are presenting to them as flash. This might leave an annoying blank or even not there navigation. And as more basic mobile devices hit the market, this percentage could increase!

Flash could be slow to load. A big flash animation that builds a page and displays various aspects of the navigation can be slow to load and clunky. Instead of the page loading nearly instantly, the reader is sitting there waiting for a flash animation that they really do not want to see.

Search engines cannot read flash. This is fine if you are merely presenting a photo gallery that is merely for visual impact, but if your content or navigation is in the flash file, you are hiding it. You want the search engines to be able to read all of your site’s content to be able to send you traffic and if they cannot get between the pages, then how do they find them?

They are very distracting. A small advert in flash may be eye catching and do the job, but that is because it is highly noticeable and distracting. This distraction is used to grab attention and increase the clicks on the advert, but the same then goes for little flashing banners about the page. They could be too distracting and cause a nuisance to your visitors.

So yes, flash does have a use, but be very careful not to in excess of use it and ruin the web site. Not every web site needs movement and flashing panels, we aren’t at Hogwarts where everything must move. Design your website with care instead.

Written by Keith Lunt, who offers a web design Merseyside service. For more useful tips, call into the website design blog.

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