Flash websites are pretty, colorful, cutting edge and just plain cool but is it really a good idea to base an entire website around Flash? Whether or not you think you need a Flash website is a decision only you can make however hopefully after reading this page you will be make an educated and informed decision as to whether or not you want make your new website out of Flash.
One of the biggest advantages of developing a website using Flash is that it’s easier than developing a website in an alternative manner such as CSS and/or html. When you develop a Flash website you start by creating a canvas which for all intensive purposes represents the size of your website. Once your canvas is created, you can use a combination of drawing and text tools to design the layout of your pages. Each page is actually a frame in the Flash animation timeline. Thanks to the user friendly interface in Flash you can build an entire website without knowing or having to write a single line of code. It really is as easy as it sounds. A good analogy for describing Flash website development would be to picture a refrigerator. Now using some magnets you can place things on the refrigerator wherever you want and they will stay there until you move them. That is pretty much what it is like to develop or design a Flash website except instead of using magnets; you are using drawing tools, text tools and imported images.
Even though Flash makes it fairly simple to design and build a website, it also gives more advanced developers a toolset capable of unlimited potential. By combining Flash’s drawing and text tools with its native language Action script an experienced Flash web developer can create fully dynamic content rich websites, incredible animation sequences, and just about anything you can possibly imagine. The use of Action script allows you to develop a website that has all the capabilities of a standard CSS based website using PHP and MySql in addition to Flash animation. Flash can be used with PHP, ASP, .Net, ASPX and ColdFusion to connect to numerous databases including MySql, Access and Microsoft SQL.
Flash websites also offer an advantage to developers who want a website with bright vibrant colors. Since Flash websites are a special kind of “movie” file, they do not rely on hex codes or web safe colors. Instead, flash websites will let you use any color you can dream up using their robust color palette and color mixer tools.
Of course everything has advantages and disadvantages and a Flash website is no exception. As a web developer who knows Flash and has built multiple Flash websites I have my own experienced based opinion when it comes to flash websites and for all you Flash lovers out there I am sorry to say I am pretty biased against all Flash websites so the disadvantages of a Flash website part of this page will be a bit longer. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a Flash “hater”. In fact, we develop a lot of websites with flash elements because having a little flash in a website really livens up a website.
Instead of listing all the disadvantages of a Flash website in order of importance and ending with the biggest disadvantage I am going to go straight for the jugular so to speak. You can NOT make a Flash website anywhere near as search engine optimized as a standard CSS based website. You can do a few neat little tricks to “help” optimize a Flash website but when you compare apples to apples it is just NOT possible to design and build a Flash website that will perform as well as a CSS based website when it comes to search engine rankings. At the risk of sounding like anti-flash man let me share with you the reasons.
If you know anything about search engine optimization, you are already aware of how a search engine crawls your website and indexes the content of your website as well as the code used to construct the website so the reason why a Flash website does not perform well on search engines is simply because a search engine crawler cannot “see” the text or content of a Flash website because a Flash website is a “movie” file or a package so to speak that a search engine cannot see inside. If you don’t understand how search engines work or how search engine optimization works they you may want to read one of our informational pages about search engine optimization located in our resource directory. In addition to not being able to see the content or text of a Flash website, a search engine’s algorithm looks for specific tags on a website and then looks to see what keywords or keyword phrases if any are located inside those tags. An example of this these tags that search engines look for is the H1 tag or heading tag. Any text located inside of a heading tag is considered more important so a good search engine optimization specialist makes sure that every page of a website has heading tags with keywords or keyword phrases inside them. Flash websites do not allow for heading tags so that in turn means you will not have any keywords or keyword phrases located within heading tags. Now take two website and put them side by side. One website has heading tags and the other does not. If both websites are identical otherwise I can guarantee you the website with the heading tags will show up first.
The fact that you cannot properly search engine optimize a Flash website should be reason enough to NOT built an all Flash website but if you need more reasons than keep reading.
I doubt very many people are still reading this. Most likely if you are reading this website you are doing so because you wanted to know if a Flash website can be search engine optimized. If you are still reading this, then the least I can do is give you a few more disadvantages of Flash websites versus CSS based websites.
Flash developers are generally just Flash developers. This means that if you want a Flash website or need modifications to an existing Flash website then you need to find a Flash developer. I know I said that one of the advantages of a Flash website is how easy it is to use the Flash interface to develop a website. I also said it’s easy to develop a “simple” Flash website. For more advanced Flash websites you need to make sure you find a Flash developer qualified build or make the changes you want. The Flash development environment is very different than a standard web development environment and because of that can be very confusing to novice developers. Even experienced Flash developers could have trouble interpreting how a Flash website works simply because everything in Flash can be done a number of ways and not everyone develops the same way.
Last but not least Flash is expensive. I always found it kind of comical because I can build a Flash website in about half the time it takes to build a properly CSS based search engine optimized website yet for some reason Flash developers still charge a higher rate than standard developers and in some cases even programmers.
Like I said before, I am not anti-flash however I am against all Flash websites. WebDuck Designs tells each and every client and/or potential client that there is no point in building the world’s greatest website if it can’t be found. If we were to build a Flash website then we would be going against our own company mantra which is why we don’t build them anymore.