Let’s think back to the early 2000s… most websites were static, with the occasional animated GIF providing the movement that some craved.

Flash was originally used for simple animations but the software had soon developed so far that full websites could be built with it. People were wowed by the visual and sound effects, it could do amazing things that ordinary code could not.

However, in 2013, code has evolved, and so has the internet and the platforms we use it on. Here’s 5 reasons that Flash is a Flash in the pan. (Sorry.)


1. Compatibility

Flash requires a browser plugin to work, it does not work by default. Although this is available for all major computer browsers, Apple devices do not support it, so Flash does not work on iPads and iPhones.

Flash support has also been dropped by Chrome for mobile and last year Adobe announced that mobile Flash would no longer be developed or supported on Android beyond Ice Cream Sandwich (version 4.0). Basically, it soon won’t work on most mobiles and tablets.


2. Search engines

Flash is an SEO nightmare. The text, images and links cannot be read by search engines, so any content in a Flash element will not be indexed and your site will not rank as well. If you have links in a Flash file, for example a Flash navigation bar (shudder), search engines cannot follow these links and might not be able to find the rest of your site.


3. Load times

Content in Flash could include movies, animations and sound, all of which makes the size of the Flash file quite large, which increases the time it takes to load in the browser. This isn’t going to help your visitor retention, bounce rate or your SEO ranking, as Google doesn’t like a page that takes ages to load.

Flash files have to be loaded in their entirety before the content can be seen, so a full site built in Flash often leaves you watching a loading graphic while they wait. If your internet connection is slow, or you are using a mobile data connection, you could be waiting a long time to see anything.

Even simple elements created in Flash are heavier than they need to be – CSS or Javascript equivalent effects are much quicker to load.


4. Maintenance

If you want to change some of the content in your Flash site, you can’t change it yourself. So you’ll have to pay a developer.  And that could be expensive, because it’s harder and more time consuming to edit Flash files than, for example, content in a CMS.


5. Fixed size

Nowadays, we’re developing websites with mobiles in mind. Half of all local searches are performed on mobile devices and it is expected that mobile internet usage will overtake desktop usage by 2014.

Flash is fixed size – it does not adapt to fit different device screen sizes, so cannot be used on a responsive website. Which means that even if some people are able to load your Flash content on their phones, it won’t show up very well on their screens and won’t be very usable.


There are more drawbacks to Flash, but the list above should be enough to want to avoid it, remove it from your website and seriously consider upgrading your site if the whole thing is Flash based.

It’s not necessary for video anymore, and CSS and jQuery should be able to provide enough animation effects to keep things moving.

Flash will be extinct soon, as more and more platforms drop support, so make sure your website does not become extinct with it.



Posted in Five on Friday, Mobile Design, Website Design.

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