Advantages and Disadvantages of using Flash for Websites

by Bob Ruffolo on June 1, 2010

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Utilizing Flash in your website design enables you to put animated and interactive content on the site, including animated banner ads and Flash intros. Flash was originally used as an animation tool and video also works well with Flash applications because it doesn’t require a plug-in like QuickTime or MediaPlayer. Games also work well in Flash and vector graphics also look great in Flash.

These are the advantages to Flash but there are many disadvantages as well. For starters, most Flash applications are very large and slow to download and many users may not want to wait. Another key disadvantage is that information embedded in Flash is invisible to search engines. Information hidden in graphic formats such as Flash is difficult if not impossible to find and process. Sites constructed completely in Flash offer very little textual information so they can’t be located by search engine bots. You may be able to avoid this problem by including static HTML links from the homepage that the bots can locate. Another disadvantage is the use of Flash disenables the back button, which makes the site difficult to use. Finally, Flash requires a plug-in, which most people have built into their computers, but some Web browsers don’t, so they won’t be able to view the page.

When determining whether or not to use Flash on your site, decide if it will enable you to communicate with your audience. If your site uses animation and rich media content you may need Flash, but if it doesn’t there’s no need for it. Then determine if your audience has the plug in and is willing to wait for the content to download. Finally, determine if a site with static HTML content is sufficient to your needs.

Discuss these questions with your web designer before determining whether to use Flash.