Web Design Flash - October 2007 Updated June 2011
Web design Sunshine Coast
Flash has been a fantastic addition to the web design arena however used incorrectly it can detract from what you are trying to achieve.
These examples of Flash should not be used on your website.
Probably the most abused and misused method of using Flash is in the navigation or links that join the web pages and allow visitors to 'navigate' to their area of interest. There are a number of reasons for this:
Update June 2011
We have redesigned a Sunshine Coast website that was using flash. The load time is now 1.2 seconds - faster than 85% of websites! Image from our Google Webmaster Account.
Larger image below
Areas in your website where Flash should not be used.
Text is one of the most important parts of your website as text is what makes indexing your website in the search engines possible. The problem with Flash is that the search engines do not go inside of the Flash files to collect the text information. What this basically means is that when the search engine spiders crawl through your website and come across your Flash navigation file, they crawl right over the top of it. If you have keywords in your Flash navigation that are relevant to the content of your website, then they won't be indexed or even noticed by the search engine spiders.
More info on website links from 2004.
Using Flash for your navigation will slow down the load time for your web page. Yes, using anything on your website will add to the load time; however, some things (such as Flash navigation) are avoidable. Some Flash file sizes are larger than others - the larger the file size means a longer download time means the more your already impatient visitors have to wait. This has been covered in web design for your home page. More on this factor in website homepage from 2003.
The purpose of website navigation is to provide for your visitors a means of, well, navigating throughout your website. Flash navigation crosses over from bad to extremely bad when the visitor must wait for an animation to complete each time their mouse cursor rolls over an item in the menu. In case you didn't already know, people hate waiting. There is nothing worse than having to wait even just a few seconds in order to activate a particular navigational item after rolling over it. Not only can the animations be annoying, but sometimes the menus are just downright confusing (i.e. Picture elements are used instead of words for each item).
Not everyone is using Flash these days. Although it is usually rare that someone doesn't have Flash activated on their computer, it still occurs. These Flash-disabled users will have no way of finding their way around your website. And since one of the key ingredients to a successful website is navigation, not having navigation to those with Flash disabled will make your website look quite terrible (and more importantly, non-interactive and useless).
The best way to build a SEO friendly, fast loading, user friendly, ultra compatible navigational menu is by using CSS (cascading style sheets). CSS solves all of these problems that you will encounter when using Flash navigation. XHTML and CSS are covered in web design standards.
Without a doubt the worst way to use (or should we say misuse) Flash is to have a Flash intro on your website. In case you don't already know, Flash intros are those annoying animations that play when you first arrive at some websites. If the content of your website is engaging and useful, then there is no real reason to have a Flash intro. Adding to the fact that most people are impatient when surfing the web, many of them do not have the time or patience to watch a lengthy Flash intro.
If you're going to have a Flash intro, then at least include a "Skip Intro" button that is clearly visible to the user. Even better, instead of making the Flash intro something that is automatically shown to all visitors, place a descriptive link somewhere inside of your website that, when clicked, allows the user to view your promotional animation (usually what Flash intros are).
Finally, be careful with the inclusion of sound in your Flash intro. If someone has their speakers turned up to a high volume, then you could be responsible for scaring the living daylights out of them (and scaring them away from your website as well).
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