Advantages and Disadvantages
I'm planning to learn Macromedia Flash MX.
I'd like to know the advantages/dis-advantages of using Flash? I know some... Dis-advantages:
No text in the page, search engines do not index the whole page (with text)..useless for SEO.
Search Engines do not follow links from a flash web page, but I guess you could enter some at the bottom in HTML.
Mind blowing Graphics :)
Can connect to databases, such as MYSQL, and act as a programming language.
-Can load extremely slow on Dial-up connections
-May cause some people to skip the site all together
-There is still a small percentage of the population who doesn't have the flash plug-in, nor do they wish to download it. Again, very small percentage according to Macromedia, but if part of them are your target market it is well worth noting.
-Can do things that you simply cannot do with HTML/CSS
-Extremely valuable when your target market is graphically oriented
-Can be used very effectively as a 'piece' of a traditional HTML site such as a banner or interactive graphic
Another big disadvantage will be when online advertisers who used to use popup windows move full time into flash based adverts. we've all seen the ones where it fills up half the page and you have to click on it to get rid of it.
More and more people will stop using the flash plugin as this becomes more mainstream.
Personally speaking I haven't had the plugin enabled for about a year now and I know plenty of others who have done the same so I do dispute MM claim that the user base is the high 90's.
Flash had the "wow" factor for a couple of years but now it tends to put people off a site imo.
Here is a resource list I made a while back, but is still relavent.
>>Search Engines do not follow links from a flash web page
Most do follow links to external pages in flash.
|Flash had the "wow" factor for a couple of years but now it tends to put people off a site imo. |
I think that it really all depends on how it's executed and if it serves the site in question. Flash and static HTML coding can make for a deadly site if it is done well. I ran across the most beautiful site last night ... it was a combination Flash/XHTML/CSS. Flash is here to stay but not just as a "showpiece". I think we'll be seeing a lot more of it as web services develop over the next few years.
Anyhow ... Flash:
-absolute freedom in "page layout"
-greater interactivity and control (ie. vector rendering, image scaling)
-improved intergration (ie. image types, sound)
-easier font handling (suddenly any font is "embeddable")
-no need to reload page
-the fact that it requires a plugin
-the "back button" issue
Thanks Korkus, the resource list you built (1.3 years ago) was a good read, and I've gotta say, it still looks up-to-date.
Also, thanks guys! I think I'll start on Flash ASAP..
Even though it has some dis-advantages with Search Engines..Who cares? At least the PR is still counted and the page title (in html) is still read..
One thing many people are unaware of is the ability to make your page load time faster. For example,
This is the structure for a menu I use on my site. It allows a menu that highlights one item on the menu.
<a class="format_text">Page 1</a>
<a class="format_text">Page 2</a>
and so on...
This means the browser has to read all these tags, interpret them, then draw them on the screen. It should look similiar in all browsers but there might be that rouge user using opera 6.xx where a odd bug causes it to draw your menu in a funny way.
On the other hand, if you use flash to create the menu. All the browser needs to know is to reserve the width and height. The flash plugin will create the menu. This also means that the menu should look the same in every browser.
Here are my tips for using flash, just my personal preferences,
I like to use at least flash 6 because it allows me to compress my flash before sending. Which can really reduce file size. I also try to stick to using only device fonts whenever possible. This can really keep your file sizes small.
I have to agree most of my friends in middle america who use dial up turn off images and flash because of the load times Flash was cool but sucks for dial up I stopped using flash in my sites just because of that fact maybe in 10 years more people will have broadband hopefully.
I've been messing about on the 'net since 1990 or so. I've been messing about making websites since about 1994. I absolutely refuse to load any page which starts with a flash ANYTHING. Hasn't anything to do with time or dial-up, whatever - I have a T-1 at work, flash isn't a problem....
What IS a problem is that flash is one of those "techno-geekist" things that basically slaps the rest of the real world in the face with "SEE WHAT I CAN DO AND SUCKS TO YOU TOO!" Doesn't make a more usable site - quite the opposite in fact, and basically comes across as a 12-year old kid with a new toy....
Needless to say, I don't produce sites myself which use flash. Oh yeah - I can DO flash.... I'm as geeky as the next guy, I want to KNOW how it works. But I won't foist it off on an unsuspecting public....
I can't understand your point.
Most people don't like Flash because: Flash is either too slow on a dialup, they can't be bothered waiting.
or if a site REALLY sucks which is made out of flash. And looks lame.
But are you saying that you don't like flash because its too geeky - as in, too advanced and comprehensive; too good; theres too much competition?
Doesn't make any sense.
For ME it hasn't to do with "slow" since I have a T-1 or so available.
For the rest of the real world (85% of whom are still using dial-up), it's not only too slow, it provides nothing but silly geek-stuff.
Show me a site where flash is SO IMPORTANT to the actual USABILITY of the site that not having it would make the site a nothing.
You can stickymail me with an addy.
You are totally wrong. If I were to name the down-sides of flash (as a surfer), I would have only 1 thing in my mind: Speed.
What you call "silly geeky" stuff is actually "advanced revolutionized interfaced" stuff. So you think HTML is not geeky enough that a webmaster has to spend up to 10 hours designing a whole website, which ends up with just a normal "almost been done before" type design?
Where as, if he spends the same amount of time designing flash, he would end up with something so-unique and slick, that he would want to press the "F5" button at least 10 times. I'm not saying you can't come up with unique stuff in HTML, but in HTML, its very easy to classify the types of design a site has (using HTML).
Best of all, Flash is compatible with any OS, which has a compatible Web Browser and the web browser supports Macromedia. Where as, in HTML, I'd have to waste 8 more hours optimizing the site for 800x600 or maybe Mozilla compatible CSS code. God, such an headache. If you don't think speed is a big concern and the "advanced" interface is the biggest concern, I'm confused.
BTW, I sent you the list you wanted about sites that could not work without flash.
Oh no - what I POSTED was:
"Show me a site where flash is SO IMPORTANT to the actual USABILITY of the site that not having it would make the site a nothing."
That doesn't equate to your "BTW, I sent you the list you wanted about sites that could not work without flash."
MAJOR difference in semantics there....
Making sites which "can't work without flash" forces the surfing public to download and install plugins which they maybe don't want.
*shrug* You do your thing, I'll do mine. I don't personally consider flash "advanced revolutionized interface" stuff. I consider it geek-toy stuff. It's fun to play with - I believe I remember posting that I'm as big a geek as the next guy - but as far as USABILITY, it's fair useless.
Each to hisser own.
|I absolutely refuse to load any page which starts with a flash ANYTHING |
A sensible piece of advice posted somewhere hereabouts not long ago suggested not putting Flash on the first page that a user will see. Get your message onto the user's screen as quickly as possible. Once you've got them hooked you can use Flash, if necessary, to pull them in further.
I find vkaryl's comments odd to say the least, especially the "Each to hisser own" bit? as it is more to do with the viewers opinion and not the creator. Do you suggest that TV advertising companies stop using CGI in their adverts and simply say "here, corfnlakes, buy, eat, go away"? or maybe have some clever CGI stuff in the add, that stops people from reading the paper, maybe saying "wow" a couple of times, then maybe converse to their friends about the add itself, and finally... never forget the product it was advertising. I think that Flash would be a bad idea if the site was a huge reference database, where people simply had to find data quickly and effectively, it's then that I can understand the arguements for CSS and linear layout. But when you have to impress the impressionable, then go ahead and impress them.
|Do you suggest that TV advertising companies stop using CGI in their adverts and simply say "here, corfnlakes, buy, eat, go away"? or maybe have some clever CGI stuff in the add.... |
I don't watch TV. I don't care what they do to sell whatever. TV isn't entertainment as far as I'm concerned. BOOKS are entertainment.
Basically, I'm saying that just because one CAN do something doesn't mean one SHOULD. Flash is geek-craft. Most of us normal folks use the web for information, research, and shopping. Why on EARTH (or any OTHER planet for that matter?) would we want some geek's idea of "blammo-super-duper-look-what-I-can-do-so-I-did" as the first thing we see when hitting a site? That of course begs the question of how many of "us" there are as opposed to how many of "you" there are. I haven't a clue, and I don't know that it matters.
Clean is mean.
|A sensible piece of advice posted somewhere hereabouts not long ago suggested not putting Flash on the first page that a user will see. Get your message onto the user's screen as quickly as possible. Once you've got them hooked you can use Flash, if necessary, to pull them in further. |
Very VERY sensible advice. I remember seeing it a while back, but had "lost" it since. Thanks for reminding me!
I think flash has its place. It is not inherently evil, just as tables are not inherently evil. As was said before, it probably is not best used on a text heavy site where the focus is presenting large amounts of information.
Personally flash irritates me, and I have it disabled by default. This is mostly because it tends to break a lot of my browsing habits. Also, learning each author's "cutting edge" UI every time I visit a new site is a bit frustrating, as flash sites don't tend to stick with common conventions.
All that said, if you are trying to design a site where the whole point is to present "mind blowing" animation and the like, by all means use flash. Just as long as you don't use it "because it's there."
It's just as easy to make a terrible site with straight html, so don't think flash is worse than any other tool.
When producing a website, you have to ask yourself the key question in this case: Is Flash absolutely necessary? Most of the time, the answer is no.
|Best of all, Flash is compatible with any OS, which has a compatible Web Browser and the web browser supports Macromedia. |
In other words, by using Flash, you're automatically saying goodbye to anyone not using a regular laptop or desktop computer, running a fairly common OS.
|Where as, in HTML, I'd have to waste 8 more hours optimizing the site for 800x600 |
What happened to liquid designs?
|or maybe Mozilla compatible CSS code. |
Eh? Surely you'd never consider using any Microsoft proprietary CSS?
The point is, although Flash will display the same on any browser that supports it, you're going to loose far more visitors by using Flash than you are by any possible browser incompatibilities that your site might entail.
I read where flash is primarily used on front pages. I had an old computer (90mHz clock) and flash would take forever to load and play on dialup. Now that I've upgraded, it's much better and the flash plays correctly.
Anyway, I had tried to get sound to play cross-browser and had just about given up when I was turned on to flash. If the user doesn't have the plugin, it's a quick 2 minute download with smooth auto-install. It's the only true cross-browser solution to playing audio I've ever found with a bonus of small file sizes. As far as audio is concerned, long live flash/swish!
Flash is over-rated - and when I say that, I mean webmasters believe it's cool, viewers do not. Most, anyway - in the circle of people I work with. Of course, Macromedia wants us to believe everyone has the plugin! They have product to sell! Statistics can be made to say anything you want them to, that's what's cool about numbers.
I recently conducted a poll of my peers. The consensus was "skip the flash unless you are promoting an animation portfolio or are an artist selling pictures or animation".
Reasons (and I am included in this):
Many still don't have the plugins regardless of what Macromedia states. (I don't, and refuse to)
Most people in the midwest US, and even in many other countries, are still on dial-up. Not by choice, but because they don't live where other connections exist or are possible (in West Des Moines, Iowa, we could not get DSL!)
Flash takes a lot of computer overhead if abused: On my 1800 (running an AMD2300+ and a half gig of ram) Flash will bring the computer to its knees if I'm browsing while doing other work (which many people do)
I recently hit a flash site and had to wait 5 minutes to get my computer back. At that time I decided to kill flash and leave sites that didn't give me an option to view with no flash.
Long story short, my peers came up with this:
Why would you use flash? Because you can? Because you should? To show off?
They told me flat out that they wanted content, and more than a few said they, too, left sites if they were forced to view distracting animations, etc. (I have some of their comments in a guestbook to prove it) A recent article in another well known "webmaster site" and discussion area was quite blunt - stating simply "don't use it". They said only graphic designers attemting to display and sell their work online should use it. That most things done with flash could be done more simply and just as well with other technology while not offending or turning away viewers.
Agree or disagree, too often "webmasters" use what's cool or new or exciting - to them, not the best tool or what's best for viewers - the whole reason to exist. Without viewers, your site has no reason to exist other than to satisfy personal ego.
Just some thoughts I'm passing along after some heavy discussions I was in on some other sites. Seems about half of even the webmasters in other areas were quick to question the real reasons to use it short of "showing off".
I went there with the intent to see if I should be learning and using it myself - I was going to use it! I was quickly shot down.
the people I target want content - they go to a site to read, to gather information or buy product, not to be entertained. The audience YOU are after MAY be different - they might love flash and want to be entertained by cool stuff. So the final choice is always yours.
I know I won't be using Flash for anything as I've been told flatly by my audience to not use it for anything. My HTML menus are plenty for them, fast and no load on the CPU and SE friendly and don't tax the dial-up connections most people in this country are still on. I also leave sites and don't even try when I hit a page that is blank because the author was so arrogant as to assume that I had Flash plugins and should be using them. They lost my business, I'm afraid. They don't even give a choice.
Guess I've been burned by Flash, and my computer taken to its knees too often by those who see it's "cool to use flash" and have no reason other than that, and by my viewers telling me not to use it myself.
Thus, I've been moved to the "non-flash side".
I suppose I must be one of the "firm believers in the equal and inseparable power of visual and functional communication." (now where did I get that quote?) and I seem to be fast falling into the same place as Kronos. I personally like flash, but then I create stuff for kids most of the time, and they thank god, have no politics of their own yet! (most of them anyhow)
Flash has its places and won't go away - which is a good thing. However, to force people to sit back while a file loads, then an intro plays, and no option to use a non-Flash page, now that is bad.
(forcing music and sound on unsuspecting viewers is also a bad thing, it kills any real content downloading over dial-up. If I want sound, I'll turn up my MP3 player and headphones.)
Interesting to note - my son is going to a major college for graphics arts and web design. He started at ISU, then on to a college in ILL., and now to another - in each, they won't even teach or hardly speak of Flash, because as he quotes them, "it's not mainstream and not necessary, it's an option that too many abuse" so they won't teach it. They DO teach Photoshop, and other graphics tools and Dreamweaver as a "GUI" HTML tool.
That's quotes from college professors teaching graphics and web design.
My son is great - like many of you, he is a FIRM believer in visual impact and design as king, however, he gets his impact from simple fantastic graphics and minimal animation. He reserves any animation to pages off the index or home page, he'll never place them there. He also states they need to be "optional" not the only way to visit a site.
My peers, however, want content, text, good reading, information, then photos if items. I browse for information and the faster I can get it, the happier I am. I also run with about 4 to 6 browser windows or tabs (depending on broswer) at any given time, and about 4 to 6 other apps running at the same time. I don't need more overhead.
(>What if my vision is less than perfect? I can't change my personal style sheet or increase font size if you have it locked into flash images and animation. Much of the real world really does have visual issues.<)
I guess I just got burned too many times by arrogant young webmasters - who lack maturity and seem to believe the more gawdy color and animation, the better, who seem to believe the world is on T1 and running quad 3ghz processors and a terrabyte of ram and there are no people who have less than 20-20 and perfect color perception (there are no color-blind people) and who REALLY do wish to sit and wait for an animated intro before they can see content. There's another problem with some sites - if I go back I must sit through that same intro all over again.
Fortunately, those are the exception, but too many exist. I suspect that years ago, some of these "webmasters" would have all caps blinking red text at 24px on a blue background running left edge to right edge, no margins, some even forcing horizontal scroll. Now, they abuse Flash. Because "it's cool", and to show off their "coolness".
No, this is NOT aimed at anyone here, just observations after hitting waaay too many sites built by amateurs wanting only to show off what they can do. And searching for certain information for hours only to run into such sites and finding no real information or content. Somehow these sites seem to crowd the top 50 lists on Google. (I'll also guess that the average age of those "abusing" Flash is under 25.)
I know, there are GREAT sites that use Flash wisely. Those are truly art. Those people need to teach the majority how to properly apply it, then maybe I'll change my mind. Flash is an abused tool.
->So call me old and old-fashioned. I simply believe that simplicity and content and most of all, the CUSTOMER is king. Give them respect and speed.<-
That's all I have to say on that topic.
You said what I could not. "Right On!"
I'm looking for another host right now...and I haven't been to one yet that didn't have a loooooooooooong flash header. I don't mind a very short "non-loading" message flash..but this is getting rediculous. It's exploding now in terms of popularity.