Flash-Websites & Mobile Smartphone Viewing Problems

A lot of our Architecture/Engineering/Construction (AEC clients have considered or used Flash for their Web presence and branding needs. We would always hear statements like the following: "Using all Flash makes our site seem so dynamic and lively. Let's design the site in totally in Flash and forget the rest."

You might be tempted into thinking that designing your Website completely in Flash is a good idea. However, there are plenty of facts you should learn before you build a Website in Flash only. Having a "dynamic and lively" Website becomes counterproductive if most of your audience, especially smartphone users, is inadvertently prevented from visiting your Website due to technological constraints. There are several things to keep in mind when considering a 100-percent Flash website for your business.
 
For instance, loading times are one consideration to have when it comes to Flash Website deployment. Despite a rapid increase in Internet connection speeds for most users, loading times are still considered a big drawback of Flash Websites. These Websites require plenty of resources in order to run. For those with slow Internet connections, it could take minutes for a pure Flash Website to download. In addition, Flash Websites require upgraded Flash players in order to run, adding yet another layer of complexity to an already complex solution.
 
Another consideration to keep in mind when creating a Website is how your audience reaches it in the first place. For starters, Flash websites have been known for not being search engine friendly, making them hard to spot by those who rely on search engines to seek out products and services. Although Google has gotten better at indexing Websites with rich media content, especially Flash Websites that feature textual content, it is still not recommended to commit oneself to building Websites that completely rely on Flash.
 
Then there are those who might not be able to visit your Website due to technology constraints. This applies especially to visitors who rely on their smartphones. Statistics from Pew Internet shows that over 46 percent of American adults now own a smartphone of some kind and many of these smartphones lack support for Flash, making it almost impossible for smartphone users to view these types of Websites. When it comes to creating any sort of Website, accessibility is the key to making it successful.
 
One possible solution for this particular dilemma is to create a dedicated mobile site for smartphone users. However, that can take additional resources that could be used to create a single Website that can be accessed by all browsers. HTML5 is often cited as a viable alternative to Flash, offering dynamic rich media content while requiring fewer resources. Most smartphones and many of the latest desktop web browsers support HTML5, but complete support of the standard remains a distant possibility. On the other hand, Flash is supported on a wide variety of browsing platforms.
 
Designing a website in 100-percent Flash might not be the best approach, especially when so many people rely on your products and services. If someone is prevented from seeing your Website due to slow loading times, browser incompatibility, or some other technological constraint, that leads to a lost opportunity to expand your business' customer base resulting in decreased revenue. 
 
As of this writing, Apple continues to oppose Adobe Flash on their mobile devices. Apple’s position over time has been to not support Flash primarily because of performance issues and security loopholes. (See the late Steve Job's Thoughts on Flash.) Our take is that, in general, Flash is a great tool and can be very useful on the Web for folks creating a interactive website and or specialized applications. But the new and improved HTML5 is spreading quickly amongst developers. And most of the browsers support this too, which helps to fuel this new HTML5 movement.
 
For an interesting read on HTML5, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTML5
 
Is your firm aware of the ramifications of using Flash? Are you locked in "Flash jail" without a way of updating your current Website? No worries, just contact us for help.

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Data-Scribe, a division of VelaMira, Inc., is a business and technology consulting firm. Our nationwide team of degreed and credentialed professionals specializes in business analysis, project management, technical communication, website, and training services for businesses, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies.

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