September 15, 2010 | Holly Yalove

Website Design: 5 Reasons Not to Use Flash

Five Problems with Flash Websites

Flash websites were popular years ago but are not recommended today. While Flash is a fantastic platform for many things such as video games and media players, there are problems with Flash that cause many website developers to avoid Flash use.

Today's businesses are tuned into Internet marketing concerns of instant gratification, search engine ranking, and social media sharing. Flash based websites are not as easily "found" by search engines, and are harder to “share”. Today's clients and prospects use the web like a phone book, so today's business needs a web presence and a website that can act as online marketing hub.

5 Big Problems with Flash Websites

1) Poor Search Engine ranking - Flash website pages don't get indexed properly by search engines because search bots can't read Flash content. One Flash-based Knoxville website I visited recently only had 2 pages indexed in Google. Generally the more pages you have indexed by Google the better. From the search engine's standpoint, Flash websites have very little content other than page titles and meta data. Content is key in getting and keeping your website up in the rankings for Google, Bing, etc. More relevant content as well as fresh content will help your site rank higher than others.

2) Limited Mobile Phone/Mobile Device Viewing - Most mobile web browsers don’t support Flash and can’t display Flash websites at all. More and more people are doing much of their browsing on mobile devices and you don't want your website to be one of the ones they can't pull up.

3) Limited Social Media Sharing - For Flash websites, every page has the same URL (web address). Without unique URLs for each page you can’t bookmark specific pages, share links to specific landing pages for social media or Internet marketing, and you can’t click “back” to go back to a previous page.

4) Higher Bounce Rate: Website visitors to Flash based websites are not as likely to stay due to slow loading content and splash or intro pages where you have to click “enter here” or “skip intro” . This lack of instant gratification can cause your website to have a higher bounce rate (visitors landing and leaving). With Flash, the entire website has to be downloaded before any part is viewable. Waiting for the download will cause visitors with slower connection to bail out. In comparison, content on HTML & Java Script sites is instantly viewable as each image or page downloads to the browser. We recommend making it as quick and easy as possible to grab your visitor and pull them further into your website.

5) Not Visually Impaired Compliant ( Section 508 Standards) – Flash websites can’t be “read” by the visually impaired using special screen readers. Screen readers can "play" the text on a page into the ear of the user and when you have an image, alternate text present to describe the image will also be heard. Text on Flash sites are unreadable by the browser and thus appear blank. Per federal regulations, government websites have to comply with Section 508, but we think it is crucial for all sites today to be accessible for all.

Again, Flash is the perfect platform for many things such as video games and media players, but for websites geared to be an Internet marketing hub, we recommend using a powerful Content Management Systems like WordPress or HubSpot to build your website.

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Holly Yalove

Holly Yalove

As VIEO’s chief strategist and one of our principals, Holly Yalove serves as the head digital and inbound marketing strategy for our clients. She has used her extensive management, sales, and marketing experience to dramatically increase our digital marketing business, helping us become the well-rounded agency we are today.

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