No this is not a post about social misconduct. The question is "should a website use Adobe Flash technologies or should they be avoided?" Just a few years ago Flash technologies could be seen on virtually every website. It was viewable by more than 98% of all computers. It looked really cool (well, most of it did). While this question has been around since the introduction of Flash, it has become an increasingly import question in the last couple of years. Why? In my opinion it is because of the iOS operating system.
Prior to iOS the main reason, discussion, and debate was the impact Flash would have on SEO. That is not a discussion I am going to get into. Personally I believe Flash in moderation significantly enhances user experience with minimal impact on SEO. I do not recommend it for menus. While you can make very sexy navigation it comes at a huge price. Search engines like and want text links. The capabilities of Flash are great for banners, image galleries and video.
Now, just like everything else around me, my beliefs are starting to change. And we have Steve Jobs to thank for that.
With the launch of the iPhone, then the iPad, and now Apple TV, all running iOS one must seriously consider the impact of using Flash on their website. iOS does not support Flash. I am sure you already know that unless you are living in a dark, tiny closet, with the door locked for the last two years. And while we all hoped Flash would be supported it is clear now that it never will be.
Why should you care?
Do you think Apple is one of those weird companies with very little market share? Come out of the closet and think again. As of September 7, 2010, Apple has sold 120,000,000 iOS devices to date, according to Apple. This number was released at their big music event. Yes, that's right, I said 120 million devices that cannot view Flash. There are 307 million people in the US. While many own two iOS devices that is still a large percentage of people that are not capable of viewing Flash on their device.
The geniuses on Wall street estimate that by 2012 Apple will sell 120 million iPads, which are rapidly becoming the primary web surfing device of choice for many users.
What's the impact?
If you use Flash on your website there is a 1 in 4 chance that the website visitor will not be able to see the element, leaving a big blank space in their viewing experience. If that element is a menu they are dead on arrival, not able to navigate your site and will move on.
The Good News
I do support using some items new features of HTML5 and CSS3. When investing in the development of the site I believe you need to embrace the newer technologies. You don't want to outdate your investment before you even launch. Just be careful and examine the tradeoffs.
jQuery, a Developer's Friend
An small example of jQuery in action can be seen on my Home page. The main banner uses the jQuery allows me to automatically cycle images and text, including box navigation and pause on hover features. My website main banner looks the same on iPhone, iPad, Internet Explorer, Safari, and Chrome. If I would have done this in Flash you would get a big blank spot.
In summary, before using Flash on your website consider the impact to your website visitors and most importantly, your business. If you don't care about 120 million and growing devices being able to see the elements on your site then Flash away!
If you market to your clients, sell items online, client experience is important, and want every possible customer you can get then I would recommend keeping the Flash to yourself.
Do you have Flash elements on your website now? Want to see what it looks like on an iPad? Want to replace Flash elements with other technology? Is your site built completely with Flash and want to migrate to a non-Flash platform? Contact VSA Creative today or call 904.469.8722.