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April 9, 2010 - 4 comments

It’s Time to Break Up with Your Flash Website

A lot of people who know me think that I hate Flash. I do not hate Flash.

Building websites that use CSS/HTML and Javascript isn’t about being against or hating Flash. It’s a choice. There are many beautiful, amazing Flash-based experiences that have inspired me and enriched me and still do.

But the iPad really starts to change the game for everyone who has a Flash-based website. Whether you love the iPad or hate the iPad or don’t even know yet, Apple’s decision to not include or support Flash is big. 

Face the music, the web is moving toward a Web Standards model.

Do you think The New York Times, Flickr, Sports Illustrated, The White House, National Geographic, and other big companies that have made their websites iPad ready made a mistake?

Do you think because you are a small or smaller business you don’t really need to care about the direction of the web? 

When I made the transition to web design, I could have easily decided to focus on Flash development and design. In fact, it may have been expected but I didn’t. Why? 

Honestly for me, CSS/HTML coding was easier to comprehend at a conceptual level. It also offered the greatest challenges and the greatest potential. It appealed to the adventurer in me. It made sense to me because I like umbrella views and thinking about the future.

The web is greater than any one of us. It allows for communication at the highest level. This is what makes the world wide web at a fundamental level so incredibly amazing.

If the goal is to communicate with as large an audience as possible, creating and owning a standards-based website is the best way. Why? Because it can be accessed by anyone (human) or anything (machine).

The Benefits of a Standards-based Website

  • Faster integration with a lot of the marketing tools and tactics you might want to integrate with your website now and in the future (i.e. twitter, blogs, facebook)
  • Works with advancements and evolutions in browser development
  • Works on the devices your customers use now and will use in the future to consume your content
  • Is less expensive and easier to create/modify/maintain/implement code and design changes in the direction of your brand and what you want to offer your customers
  • Reaches and connects with a larger audience including customers who have disabilities and/or impairments
  • A longer shelf-life for your content
  • Faster loading times (assuming the code is structured well and clean)
  • Search-engine friendly right from the start

Think about it.

Why aren’t blogs created with Flash as the base? Why wasn’t Facebook or Twitter designed using Flash? Why are the companies you buy Flash template websites from not even using Flash for the marketing of their own business?

Instead of investing more resources asking your into your Flash website s to change and be something it cannot, I think it might be time to move on.

If you love your business, take care of it. It’ll live longer.

UPDATE 4.29.2010: Apple Shares Views on Flash 

iPad the Destroyer: 19 Things it Will Kill

Apple Crushes Adobe's iPhone App Dreams

Web Standards (the not-as-geeky Wikipedia definition)

Web Standards Project (the more geeky explanation)

Jeffrey Zeldman: King of Web Standards (the man who paved the way)

Published by: dpdavis in Self Employment, Design


April 9, 2010 at 12:40 pm

Great post, Deb with loads of good info.

April 9, 2010 at 3:34 pm

Leslie ~ Thank you. Glad you found it helpful. There’s more info and I did my best to keep it short – lol.

Stephen Voss
April 28, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Deb – Loved this post. Was just reading through your blog archives and came across this which I think is really in line with where the web is headed. The new reality (as I see it) is that all those flash-based template sites (Livebooks, Neonsky, APhotoFolio, etc.) are going to need to produce HTML5 versions of their templates or suffer further incompatibilities as the iPhone OS (and HTML5 adoption) grows.

I took a hard look at converting my site to Flash and I decided in the end that I would be going backwards technology-wise if I did so. Also was underwhelmed by the HTML templates they spit out to claim they were SEO-friendly.

Seems to me once HTML5 is mainstream and the largest users of Flash (YouTube, etc.) move away from it, flash usage is going to start arcing downwards until it’s a rather unimportant, old technology on the web.

April 28, 2010 at 9:11 pm

Stephen ~ Thank you and thanks for commenting. I really appreciate your thoughts.

Time will certainly tell about Flash. I think Flash worked very well for certain uses (and still has — games, applications, etc.).

For powering websites I honestly do not believe it was ever a good choice so people who do have websites that are wholly dependent on Flash definitely need to start looking for an alternative solution.

HTML versions are bandaids that are functional and risk being considered duplicate content by search engines. If consistency of brand experience is important to a person/business than settling on an HTML mirror or version might be enough.

For me personally, I would want my website to be built on a foundation that allowed for faster integration and adoption of new apps, tools, and compatibility with new devices. Who has time to wait for new releases? How many leads could you have lost while your Flash site isn’t working?

All of this is also about context. Flash definitely made websites prettier during a time when websites were just plain ugly. And design is not just about aesthetics so lots of points for discussion for sure.

It’s a very exciting time.

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