Flash: The Pros and Cons

Adobe Flash has been the premier technology for website design since its introduction in 1996. Originally known as ‘Macromedia Flash’, a plug-in based application is used in animation, advertisement, web page video embedding, and the creation of interactive applications. Flash is a highly useful and ubiquitous web design tool with a huge number of advantages; however it is not without its flaws. When deciding on whether to use Flash as the basis for your website’s design, you should take the following into consideration.

One of the biggest advantages of using Flash to design your web content is its sheer level of compatibility. Because of the widespread usage of Flash (with close to universal adaptation), there are few issues associated with user uptake. However, one notable obstacle to the widespread acceptance of Flash has been Apple’s decision to boycott Flash support in its iOS based devices. This, along with Flash’s resource hungry reputation (the main reason that Apple CEO Steve Jobs cited for not supporting Flash) has discouraged some website designers from adopting the software.

In deciding whether Flash is the best option for your website, there are a few factors worth considering. Because some users may encounter compatibility issues when it comes to Flash, it is recommended that Flash is not used for navigation, or any other vital component of your website. Aside from the fact that navigation with Flash can be cumbersome (for example, a browser’s ‘back’ button cannot be used), given that it is a plug-in which requires a download, a user’s adoption of Flash should never be presumed. Additionally, if rankings in search results are important (as they often are) Flash can be a handicap for your website. Search engines are typically unable to read Flash content, meaning sites that use a high level of Flash integration face this difficult problem. This is often bypassed by a site being kept in a duplicate HTML version, which is also a good option for sidestepping accessibility issues.

Flash can be a great tool for web designers. Its popularity and utility for creating animation, interactivity and slick design make Flash a great choice for many web-based projects. However, if your project doesn’t depend on heavily (or at all) on any of these factors, it may be worth considering another option. At the end of the day, some people simply don’t like Flash. Whether this is due to its high resource demands, requirement of a downloaded plug-in for use or clunky navigation issues, Flash is not for everyone – nor is it for every web design issue.

Video 1 – Pros and Cons of Flash

Video 2 – Pros and Cons of using Adobe Flash