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should i ditch my flash menu?


Geoffrey james

4:06 am on Aug 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

hi all,

I have a xml flash menu, it looks fantastic and I would love to keep it, but am worried about the effects of having this. Im not long into web development and am worried about the side affects of some without flash not getting any menu.

Im also wondering if spiders see the links to the rest of my site that are within the menu, as this is the only way to the rest of the site.

I know you can re-direct users who dont have flash, but am unsure how to do this. If I do re-direct and make an exact page but with normal menu, do I have to do this for all my pages.

Please let me know your views and help me decide.

cheers from UK



5:20 am on Aug 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Can I just stir the pot and say that flash sites often rank poorly on the net entirely for that reason.

So many designers go for form over function, and end up with empty glitzy sites. Also I have seen many business sites with flash and other technologies where they paid $000's for a site no one knows exists.


12:36 pm on Aug 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Flash navs, as opposed to all-flash sites, are generally fine. Google, and presumably others, can crawl into flash and find links (it's about the only thing they can do with flash). The important part is that your content not be in flash.

That said, you'll do better if you have non-flash alternate content for people without flash (including spiders). Given that 95+% of users have flash it doesn't need to be all that pretty, but you'll do better if it's there.

Sometimes I feel like a broken record since I keep recommending SWFObject (aka FlashObject), but it works and will do exactly what you need - it first presents the non-flash alternative, then switches to flash if the user has the correct version of flash - and does so in a way that avoids the recent problems with IE.

Geoffrey james

5:45 pm on Aug 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Thanks for comments,

its a flash menu taking up less than 10% of the page, but I will probably worry about non flash users, and older bowser compatibility too, so maybe I will get rid and use css to create nice rollover nav system, or maybe drop down. When I learn how to...he he.



7:25 pm on Aug 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Geoff, try some Ajax, there are some good menu systems that that are easily read by the bot.


1:35 pm on Aug 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Geoff....in april 2006 a survey pulled up showed that 97.2% of web users have flash installed - my guess is, it's flash player 5 and up, with the greater majority being flash player 6+....

Jay5r....where did you read/hear that se's can read into flash? I have never heard such.

until i read/hear otherwise, i agree with netchicken1 - stay away from flash as much as you can - ajax is a great alternative

the only time i use flash for clients are:
- when the peice of flash will contain no important content and only provide an enhanced user experience (unless the content is dupped on another page as html)
- if the client is not largely depending on traffic from se's (they have alternate methods for driving traffic)

there are a few others, but the key is, if you want to get indexed (and have a decent rank) - stick to html and css for core content and ALWAYS have a sub navigation structure on the page consisting of text links to your other pages and a sitempa that links to all pages.

Geoffrey james

1:43 pm on Aug 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

hey dareRock,

thanks for your help in making my mind up to get rid. Not sure if you have heard of the menu im using but its a product from frunder. It does look ace and is supposed to get round many problems faced with flash but am sure its not good idea when using for a menu....suppose i was just hoping i could keep it and still retain my page rank 4 and page 1 search for uk and non uk aswell.

But now, like you I feel I may get dropped from rankings and SE's if I produce this updated website with the flash menu.

Many thanks all,



2:18 pm on Aug 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

if it aint broke - in the eyes of the se's - dont fix it - you just need to ask yourself - 'will this new flashy nav menu really help my bottom line?' since, you're on the first page for your keywords, it become a huge gamble.....not worth it imho...


3:26 pm on Aug 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Flash penetration stats can be found here:


There's over 95% penetration for version 7 in "mature markets", a little better for earlier versions.

How do I know Google crawls flash? 'Cause I see swf files in their index for my site. (Mind you I also have non-flash nav on my site just in case). But there has been conversation going back years that search engines can crawl flash - here's an example...


It even quotes Matt Cutts saying that they do in fact do it successfully - in fact they do it better than the other search engines did at the time.


1:14 am on Aug 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

jayr....im a little skeptical about the way that article is worded...they say they can index sites using flash (or that contain swf's)...that does not tell me that they can actually go in and extract links (getURLs) from the swf..it means, when they find an html page with an swf in it, they can tell and swf is in it....thats great.......sure matt cutts says they can extract up to 50% more links than that of the flash developer kit....how much is 50%? - b/c if the kit can get 1 out of 100 links, then google getting 2 of 100 isn't a big deal.....

also, ya, i see [swf] in google results sometimes, but i never see the text in the flash file as the description underneath the link listed in google.....i'd need to see an example to decrease my skepticism.....

the article being written in 2003 AND the fact that common notion is to stay away from flash if you want to rank well in the serps, keeps me in the same position prior to reading that article.....if you ask me, that conversation is dead...but, then again, who am i to say whats what...

Geoffrey james

9:12 am on Aug 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

hey all...

hope i havent started something here.

am still 90% sure I will remove the flash menu....BUT

could I not retain my great SEO and rank 4 by placing an invisable menu under the flash, so the likns get picked out and menu keywords get seen by code? but not by the web user?

also, not sure how to get any flash users picked out and sent to a NON flash menu site, would I need to re-create every page with the non flash menu...

seems like hastle


opinions still welcome....BUT no fighting


11:41 am on Aug 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

seriously - look at swfobject - you can have your cake and eat it too...


2:08 am on Aug 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member encyclo is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Don't go for any method which involves hiding links, if you care at all concerned for your search engine ranking you do not want to risk getting banned for hidden text, of which this would be a blatant example.

Whilst search engines can access some Flash content, the usefullness of a Flash menu will be extremely limited, especially if there is no plain HTML alternative. You should at the very least try to incorporate plain HTML links via a universal footer, combined by a site map page where you list all the pages of your site via plain text anchors.

You should also consider the overall usability of a Flash menu. Virtually no major sites outside of Adobe/Macromedia's own sites use Flash for site navigation, and even then never without a text alternative. Flash menus often dramatically reduce the efficiency of a site, especially if they are dynamic - see Mouseover Menus - or DHTML indigestion [webmasterworld.com] for one viewpoint.


11:56 pm on Aug 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

geoff...use the swfObject as Jayr said - you can have your regular, html style navigation AND your flash navigation in the same page - if the user has flash, they get the flash menu, if they dont, they get the html version - google will be able to read and follow the html version - which is the main point i believe jayr is trying to make here.


1:27 pm on Aug 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I can think of one really GOOD reason to use a Flash menu...you can load it as a separate .swf layered on top of any given page of your site. Therefore, any change in your site's navigation can be accomplished by simply editing one file. I find that very handy. The down side, obviously, is it's near invisibility to search engines, but as repeatedly pointed out, swfobject cures that problem, and is more or less mandatory now, anyway, thanks to IE's security snafu.

billy d goat

3:25 pm on Sep 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I'm also going to have to go in favor of swfobject. Works as advertised, which is great. I use it for all of my flash content.

Geoffrey james

9:21 pm on Sep 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Thanks all, have decided to ditch flash menu and am very happy with new one, only one problem as stated below, can anyone help?

I have a javascript menu, with sub menu's out to the right.

I have just placed a flash slideshow next to the main menu and now the sub menu's are not visible ontop of the new flash slideshow.

Some of the sub menu's under the flash are still appearing fine.

How can i get the sub menu's to be visable ontop of the slideshow.

i have played around with the z-index but to no effect.



2:43 pm on Sep 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I'd keep the flash menu, and put some static HTML links in the footer of the page


4:06 am on Sep 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Yes, such an easy solution, too.

Static HTML links in the footer of the page.

I've used this solution for years. As a result, clients are happy with cool flash menu, and search engines easily spider their sites.

BTW, SWFObject is great too!


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