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The Cons :(
- The user does not prefer Flash
- The user does not know about Flash (and doesn't want to download it)
- The user is on a platform which does not support Flash (rare, but possible.)
You should know, if you are new to the SEO space, that cloaking is frowned upon by the search engines. They say "don't do it".
That said, it works well if you're intelligent about how to do it.
Cloaking is a technique which is used commonly to make search engines read 'different' content than a normal user. It is strictly prohibited by many search engines as some use it as a way to fool them, but if you are brave enough to do it, then do it.
1. Serve index.htm as start page with full html
2. Detect if Flash player installed
3. If Flash player installed, redirect to Flash intro
On a related note to stever's technique, it might be possible to have two versions of a website: HTML and Flash. By having two versions, the following technique (modified from that of stever's) can be used:
1. Serve index.htm as start page with full html.
2. Detect if Flash player installed.
3. If Flash player installed, redirect to Flash version.
4. If not, redirect to HTML version.
Using Alternative Formats
Flash is nice, it can really do things other formats can't, but my suggestion would be to avoid it whenever possible.
Some alternatives you can use:
Many other old threads, most are linked from:
fixed a little grammar[/edit]
[edited by: sidyadav at 3:40 pm (utc) on July 17, 2004]
Flash is a tool. It can be used effectively
Unfortunately, Flash is used like a hammer by many designers - they get a new 'Flash' hammer - and everything suddenly looks like a nail - navigation nails - content nails - solve it all with the flash hammer......
I do use it for animations, which I think is its main role, for example, there are many industries where site speed is not (that) important:
Industries where image is importantant and users expect a 'flashy' website.
I also use it for selling high-ticket items on the web as an option (eg: interactive trial of product (mobile phone), 3d view of latest gadget etc)
This limited role is where I think it works best.
Designers WANT to make flashy websites, users don'T expect them...
Run tests. Do business with a flash site, and then move it to pure html, MEASRE the difference.
A game is a different matter. A game isn't a website. Neither is a movie. I used to produce TV commercials in Flash. Was surprisingly easy and effective, but they were NOT web documents.
Designers WANT to make flashy websites, users don'T expect them...
This is so true, almost all webdesigner sites I've looked at use flash, it's called FLASH for a reason, it's flashy, but it's also a flash in the pan when it comes to being a legitimate way to put out web content.
Run tests. Do business with a flash site, and then move it to pure html, MEASRE the difference.
Not necessary, the results are predictable, it's designers, not developers, not information architects, not SEO types, who insist on using flash. As the market gets more mature, I'm seeing less and less flash dependent big sites, most corporate ones have dumped it years ago, it's counterproductive, I remember watching this happen more and more around 2001, that was nice to see.
A while ago tedster pointed out that he had done a study with frames, which share many of the problems of flash sites, when he removed them page hits actually went up, even though pages delivered were fewer per screen. Only designers think this stuff is cool, and the clients they talk into using it.
As someone said, do a real test, forget the flash designer ego, put a link to a flash intro page on a straight html page and count how many people choose to view it. The numbers will be miniscule unless it's a flash designer site.
I used to produce TV commercials in Flash. Was surprisingly easy and effective, but they were NOT web documents.
I was going to post earlier, about how as far as I can tell, most flash designers really for all the world strike me as frustrated tv producers, note I say most, not all, there is great flash stuff out there, especially when it's used well, to create technical animations, games as noted, whatever, just not whole websites.
In the overwhelming majority of cases flash is chosen not because the designer has the skills to put out a solid html based site, but because flash is all they know. Everyone here has seen far too many of those sites, everything wrong, no title text, no alt html, just a flash object that contains the website.
In my experience, and in my personal trials, if you are selling a product that you claim will make someone look good, you sell more from a site that looks good. This might not neccessarily be flash, but a website must be 'cool'in your users opinion.
It doesn't matter if you don't agree; I know selling fashion. I am talking about top quality, high-ticket items here, not wholesale tat!
In the same way that people say flash designers want flash sites, I says its SEOs that want fast sites.
Users on fashion sites do care that it looks good. They might not say so, but the fact that they buy more tells me they do! Repeat visitors often prefer a faster, less flashy site, and I like to give people the option.
There are always execptions to every rule and I believe this is one in this case
--Note that I never use flash for whole site or do flash intros. See my earlier post for my views on the limited use of flash--
put a link to a flash intro page on a straight html page and count how many people choose to view it.Thats a kind of ridiculous argument, don't you think. What percentages of .swf files require an intro, or preloader. Ever put an .html intro page on a flash site and see what happens. Properly done flash loads fast and sells well. If the last time you used it was 2001 then you're missing something. And it won't belong before properly done swf is indexed as well as properly done dynamic pages were last year. Frames are also handled much better by SE's nowadays. The first SE to do it well will have the ONLY thing other SE's don't.
People don't come to me wanting a flash site, they mostly don't know what that is. They come to me saying "I want it to do this", with Flash i can almost always say "No Problem", even if at the time I really have no idea what I'll do, I know I can do it because I can visualize it on a monitor, and that means it's possible. How else can you do that?
Everyone here has seen far too many of those sites, everything wrong, no title text, no alt html, just a flash object that contains the website.Nowadays you simply adjust you publish settings and mx spits out an html page to go along with it, complete with flash detection and alternate html, jpg, etc.
Thats a kind of ridiculous argument, don't you think.
No, sorry, I don't think it is. If we are talking about full flash sites, I seriously doubt most users would prefer the flash site to the non flash site. Obviously flash can be made to look flashier, but very few people searching for something on the web are looking for flash, they are looking for results.
Again, the question was, how many users if offered the choice of straight html would choose flash, in other words, give them a very well designed and coded html page with a choice to view it in flash as default, as opposed to the standard give them a flash page and give them the choice to view with html? This is a pretty simple question, and could be determined very easily by simply running a test and then watching the stats to see what the users chose.
Tedster ran tests like this with drop menus and with frames, and the results were apparently very convincing, and quite predictable. If you are so inclined why don't you try it and then get back to us with the results?
When tedster ran these tests with drop menus, I waited to see what the results were, and then based my site architecture and navigation decisions on those results, since this was solidly determined empirical data using a control set of page stats from before the change.
Designers prefer flash pages, and clients who have been watching too much tv might be sold on them, there is no doubt about that at all. And there are really good applications for flash, there is also no doubt about that, presenting text content just isn't one of them, nor is site navigation.
While search engines can fairly easily be made to index the content of a framed site, although that alone creates pretty serious issues in terms of bringing them back up to the frame container, I'm not going to hold my breath for swf indexing, mainly because unless each swf virtual page is a single object contained in a single html file, it's not physically possible to index them as far as I know, flash has all the drawbacks of frames, plus a bunch more.
If we are talking about full flash sites, I seriously doubt most users would prefer the flash site to the non flash site.But the original argument was "put a link to a flash intro page on a straight html page and count how many people choose to view it." The reason I said it was ridiculous is because I agree noone would want to view it, but not because it's flash. They wouldn't view it because its an intro page. People want the content, and don't care how it is rendered by their browser, or its plugins. They do care what it looks like, how long it takes to download, and how usable it is. Properly done, flash meets html head on in all these categories.
but in the future...
in the future flash will have less success than frames did, although the technology will continue to be important for other media, like tv commercials, which fit the whole concept behind flash much better than the media we deal with on WebmasterWorld, http, hyper text transfer protocol.
the more I look at the web, the more clearly I begin to see that it works best when it is what it was designed to be, hyper text delivered in html. Anyone can use anything they want, and should be able to, but text is the substance of this medium, not images or objects, no matter how much macromedia insists on pushing that stuff onto designers, who can't resist the pretty curves I guess.
but text is the substance of this medium,In my business, that simply is untrue. People deciding where to stay, or what to do on their vacation, want pictures. They want a reputable company and a beautiful place and the website they are visiting is the only information they may have on the hotel, city, or entire region. I deal with numerous brides who never see our area or the reception hall, ceremony site, dj, photographer, etc. until the week or in some cases day of their wedding. Do you think they will book a ceremony from someone who has a site with words only? No, they need a vision. You can give them pictures or you can sew the entire vision before them with animation of some sort. Sure, you need words to get them to your site, but it takes the the visuals to close the deal.
<added>media we deal with on WebmasterWorld, http, hyper text transfer protocol.</added>AFAICT there is one Flash and Shockwave Forum and 0 http forums here on Webmasterworld.;)
You can give them pictures or you can sew the entire vision before them with animation of some sort.
As I said, I've seen enough sites that integrate html and flash perfectly, offering the benefits of both and the drawbacks of neither. Using flash to create this type of animation is one of the excellent uses of flash I was referring to, but that does't mean the whole page has to be flash, that's just a reflection of poor page design, or inability to conceptualize a hybrid type page layout, a layout I've seen plenty of, so I know it's not a mystery to many flash/site developers, although it is safe to say it's a mystery to most.
AFAICT there is one Flash and Shockwave Forum and 0 http forums
... I assume this is a joke, but in case it isn't, try the html and browsers forum, try the search engine forums, which all deal with http primarily, except for the odd time somebody asks about flash and SEO, which receives the same sad answers each time.
Just because they don't use the term http in those doesn't mean it isn't the primary question, it's so fundamental that it doesn't even need to be mentioned, sort of like you don't need to say a book is printed with paper, barring the odd and more or less useless ebook formats.
If you're still not clear on this, look up the various google white papers, read them, then I think you'll understand this a bit better. Search engines ARE the door into the http medium, pure and simple, they are built around it, and they are the world's door to that medium. Like it or not, that's the way it is.
Almost all SEO issues boil down to hyper text issues, or html issues, that's what the terms like backlinks, keyword density, sitelinks, etc are referring to.
Since linking to inner content of a flash based site or changeable page is technically impossible, there will be no meaningful indexing of flash sites in any near or even distant future I can see, although I'm sure the search engines will play around with it a bit, but they can't overcome this block, it's built into the technology, at best flash will be treated like pdf, but probably not, since a pdf file is a single entity, usually, while a flash file can and often does have full navigation.
Not that it will help much in terms of any of the problems with flash and the web, but it's always interesting to see what google is up to.
When that thread was active I went to a prominent flash site and searched for a text string from that site, it was most definitely not listed in google.
However, even if google does start indexing flash, what's the point? say your flash thing has 10 pages or whatever, all google can do is land you on the intro screen, that's completely useless, worse than useless in fact, since it's more results clutter, my suspicion is that while there is obviously no real reason not to index swf like pdf, this single fact will keep swf out of the results, at least the top of the results.
Remember, google wants high quality, useable results in the serps, not dead ends that don't give the searcher what they are looking for at a single click, delivering swf results in the top 50 would expose google to attack by search engines who didn't waste searchers time delivering essentially worthless results. Simple business, again, I'm not holding my breath.
I could see a place for a specialized swf search, that would make sense, sort of anyway, it's a drag the web has to deal with these annoying technologies though as far as I'm concerned, if people want tv then watch tv.
Nonetheless, there are good ways of using Flash and I'm not about to condemn it.
For me the larger issue with Flash is that its creators are trying to transform it into a dot it all platform. I'm not sure I will ever agree with this. What it does is convince many people that all they need is Flash on the net.
But one telling thing that I've noticed, is that people who build sites entirely with Flash seldom worry about being found. In this case SEO discussions are irrelevant as they do not target the right people. Now some of you will tell me that everyone benefits from SEO and should desire their that their site be found. I'm not so sure about that.
SEO, in my opinion, is not a reason to choose how a site is designed for the vast majority of businesses out there.
I would disagree with this, for a very similar scenario that you painted, fairly accurately.
Client x knows nothing about the web, seo, or anything else. designer makes them a site, looks nice and flashy, being a flash site, client is happy.
1 year down the road designer has moved along, client calls new web company, asks for some small changes (small in their mind, but too big to be integrated into existing flash design).
Client fails to understand why changing a date is a big deal, or whatever, until web person explains to them that they don't have a website in the normal sense of the word, but a nice flash thing.
Client, who has now gotten somewhat interested in trying to get a web presence after noticing that nothing really seems to be happening on the website, asks what to do.
Developer sadly informs them of reality of using flash for sites. Client sadly realizes that they now have to pay to get a real site made, after paying to get a flash site made last year. Original designer never made this adequately clear, since designer just loves being able to express themselves in their flash objects, and puts that desire ahead of long term good of client, and long term relationship with client.
After a few more experiences like this, client is forced to find a real web firm, who can deal with real web technical matters, and they move them into the real web. Client is confused but finally learns that they have to watch out for their best interests if they ever want to make it on the web.
But one telling thing that I've noticed, is that people who build sites entirely with Flash seldom worry about being found.
this is about as accurate a statement as could be put down here. And they don't worry about much else usually, when it comes to full flash site. My experience, and seeing design site after design site do the same, is that these designers don't worry about this because they have no clue about it, zero, zip, nada. They build the site in flash because it's easy for them, no html, no css, no programming, looks exactly the way they visualize it. But this choice is not one made after carefully examining the options, it's generally made out of pure ignorance of seo, http, html, css, or anything else remotely technical.
I've had this 'discussion' over and over with 'web designers' who know next to nothing about any of the technical components of what makes the web work, all they know is how to use their macromedia products to turn out very pretty but essentially useless eyecandy.
Note, I am not talking about intelligent, totally pro use of flash here, as in the case of the hybrid type sites I mentioned, or technical 3d animations, or changing the dress/clothes/colors in real time, all very cool uses of flash objects, I'm talking about the average use of flash, which generally fits into the pattern I outlined above.
Intelligent flash use, like intelligent jpg, gif, png, pdf etc use, are pluses to an intelligently built site.
Client, who has now gotten somewhat interested in trying to get a web presence after noticing that nothing really seems to be happening on the website, asks what to do.But in my example, there was traffic to his site, just not from search engines. He was paying me, the designer, for his traffic. And the price and quality of the traffic were roughly the same as the price of seo and the quality of se traffic.
And Google indexes the text content of .swf files, as I've proved for myself.
While I don't doubt you've done it, I can't find any example of indexed flash content, you placed yours in some kind of html framework, right?
Can you point to any site that has indexed flash content, no html text content on page, no cloaked content, I'd like to see this for myself.
Vector graphics are cool, I was hoping svg would take off more, looks like a sort of nogo at the moment, but I don't like depending on visitors having a flash player installed to see what I have up, if recent security warnings were heeded for IE, IE using visitors would not see them.
He was paying me, the designer, for his traffic.
This would seem to me to be an even better reason not to do that for a client. It's my opinion that in most cases the client should own the site, not all, but most, especially if the client is going to get serious.
This would be yet another thing the replacement web company would have to patiently explain to client.. well, you see, you didn't have a real site, and you didn't have real links, so really what you had was nothing. Client sighs again, wishing the web design scene wasn't such a pain to deal with. Client either shrugs shoulders, sighs, groans, then gets ready to cut more checks, or gets permanently put off to doing real web work. Several years later, as his regional competition did not make this mistake, and the web becomes more important for their widget business, client slowly starts losing his market to his more web savy competitors.
Oh, forgot LOL, this thread [webmasterworld.com] is just such a story...
Do your clients and the web a favor, give them the best of both worlds if you or the site requires flash, don't lock them into something that will cost them a lot to get out of.
The people who say that Flash should be avoided in any way are pretty much living in the past. Flash should be avoided when there is no use whatsoever for it. A newspaper should not use it since people visit the site to read the news. A webdesigner might use it for his own site since they want to convince people about many different aspects of webdesign.
Searchengines won't find it. Mmmm...too bad! You should make the right combination of Flash usage and decent content and the problem is solved. If you completely build your website within flash, then there must be a reason for that and then searchengines are clearly not your most important thing to worry about.
I love it as long as there's no overkill. Won't mention other countries, but here in the Netherlands most users have broadband connections, so I'm not worried about speed limits.
I think there are many advantages if you use it good.
Ah well, it's good to see there are so many opinions about it :)
you placed yours in some kind of html framework, right?
No. I put some nonsense text on the main timeline of an .swf and uploaded the file on a page that only contains the code required to display it. A few weeks later when I searched for those nonsense words I saw that Google had indexed the .swf file. No big deal really. It just showed Google was reading into the Flash file. I've since deleted it as it was just a little experiment.
I hardly ever build a page without some Flash element or another. I'm not talking about long downloads or silly displays you just click past - I mean elements of otherwise normal pages and which benefit from the smaller file size and one or two other things that can only be done this way. Obviously people can take a stance and do what they want with their browsers, but Flash is part of the web experience. It's an available technology that can be used well or misused.
I hardly ever build a page without some Flash element or another. I'm not talking about long downloads or silly displays you just click past - I mean elements of otherwise normal pages and which benefit from the smaller file size and one or two other things that can only be done this way
Exactly the kind of Flash I really like, where it's an addition to the page, and improves the average visitor experience, well thought out use of flash is a pleasure to see, as is well thought out use of any available web technology.
OK, so 40-50% of web users now have broadband access. But that means that 50-60% still use dialup. And Flash is SLOW on dialup, and that's the absolute truth. At work I have a fractional T-1 & still I get annoyed waiting 10-15 seconds for some of these silly splash pages & animations to load. At home with 49K the same content can take a minute or more. I'm just not that interested.
Another point: what about repeat customers? If I've seen the animation or intro before I usually have no desire to see it again. A heavy Flash site is just too cumbersome if I am looking for a specific product or bit of information.
Too many designers are ignoring Marketing Rule #1: KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. Sure, some sites really benefit from animations & other tools that Flash has to offer. Most don't.
Here's Rule #2 (applicable for almost everything): KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID.
BTW, I speak here as a beginning Web designer with an old-school graphics background. I also look at dozens of different sites every month. Most suck. Some are brilliant & beautiful. Whether those good sites use Flash or not is secondary to the overall design & how it works.