While perusing my stats today, one breadcrumb led to another, and I came across this very interesting article by Matt Chisholm, Why Your Flash Website Sucks. In a nutshell, somebody created a Flash version of WordPress, and Mr. Chisholm lists off several reasons why this is a bad idea. I didn’t take this so much as a diss on this particular idea, but more as a general diss on all-Flash websites, as in, the website is nothing but a single Flash file.
The author hits several very good points, and has also stirred up a bit of controversy1. But the general points to consider when choosing Flash are:
- Search Engines cannot see your content very well. It’s true there are various ways to make your Flash content more searchable, but not really. Search Engines cannot determine things like page hierarchy (what the most important stuff is), or link text, or alt tags, etc.
- From the user perspective, unless the Flash developer knew what they were doing, you cannot select text. Even if you could, you cannot resize text unless the Flash developer added an aspect to the interface that allowed you to do that. Also, for the disabled that need screen readers or other assistive tech, Flash sites can be a nightmare.
- The general “slick” factor of an all Flash site wears out quickly for me. Not to mention that I cannot even bookmark the stuff I like unless, again, the developer developed his Flash app in a certain way, which most don’t.
So, to sum it up, Flash isn’t all evil. It can be very handy for dealing with media, such as an image slideshow, videos (a la YouTube), or playing music files. But don’t embed your primary content in Flash – rather, use it to ice the cake with.
1Sometimes, controversy is a great way to drive traffic to your site. Much like one band picking a fight with another (like Kanye and 50 Cent), the press drives sales, and in this case, traffic.