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Multimedia Technology

Good reading - Five Ways Using Flash Can Damage Your Site (opens in new tab/win) (devshed, 2010-04-21)
(The five ways are A Flash Intro (1), Designing an All-Flash Site (2), Using Flash Headers (3), Using Flash on Your Menus or Side Bars (4), and Embedding Too Many Flash Games onto Your Site (5).)

Browser Test Static Picture
How it would look like
when visitor have Flash:
Static Picture
How it would look like
when visitor have Flash disabled:
Flash Media
Can you see it?
flash static No Flash

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player




Pros and Cons


The good parts

Flash can offer a richer experience in regards to animations, transitions and music handling. It has been there from day one to complement HTML where that isnít sufficient in offering a more full-fledged media experience.

Being a controlled runtime, it can offer exactly the same content through web browsers and platforms, without any additional code. It is probably the most spread web browser plug-in in the world.

Especially as of the latest years, it has also become the de facto way of showing videos in web sites (YouTube, Vimeo etc) because of its compressing and packaging abilities, and is a great way around common video codec issues, showing something completely full-screen and other features.

When it comes to other presentational means, Flash can help you use any font you want, and is naturally a nice way to offer games.

The bad parts

What seems to be the biggest annoyance for people is poor performance and lots of unwanted animations and such. When it comes to performance, while it can be controlled by Flash developers, they seldom seem to do it and/or they canít control the total number of Flash movies in the same page.

For instance, go to most major newspaper web sites and no matter how good a computer you have, it will be brought down on its knees. Iíve spoken to Adobe representatives about this, but they claim thereís no performance problem whatsoever in Flash and that itís all the developersí doings.

One factor which worries web site owners who are focused on SEO is about lost search engine ranking placement for content within the Flash movie. The correct way to use a Flash movie in a web page is to have an alternate HTML fallback in the HTML code, both for SEO and accessibility reasons, and to use JavaScript to dynamically insert your Flash movie.

Sadly, most developers seem to disregard accessibility, and when it comes to SEO the answer is usually: ďGoogle are working on indexing Flash movies, so the problem will soon be goneĒ. What they donít seem to realize, however, is that no matter if Google and and other search engines manage to index the content, if it isnít built up with proper code and in a good semantic manner, itís impossible to index it properly, give the correct weight to certain terms etc.

Another of the problems with Flash is that it is included in the web browser as a complete stand-alone runtime, meaning it would work just the same in a stand-alone Flash player. The effect of this is that if you focus the Flash movie, all web browser keyboard shortcuts and focus is lost, and you need to click outside of the Flash area to re-focus.

Additionally, Iím not sure people do their homework, but since Flash seem to be widely disliked (most likely to a complete and obtrusive overusage in advertisement context), people do turn it off, refuse to update their Flash player or install extensions such as Flashblock (almost 6 million downloads, 51 000 a week Ė definitely not something to sneer at).

Should you use Flash?

Sure, if you think it can bring extra value to your end users. But unless youíre building some artist/band web site, then (and maybe not even then) is it an option to build a web site only with Flash. I would rather recommend to use it for something more like a feature in a web siteís start page, to heighten the experience, but at the same time make sure that it has a proper fallback, especially if if contains any important information.

Take the above shortcomings into consideration, and if you use it, use it sparingly and above all, respect your visitors.

A Bad Example

A really "good" example of the worst kind of using Flash.

1a) Without Flash - as it looks like when people have turned off/disabled Flash:

example 1

1b) When / If Enabling Flash:

example 1b

(The above are static screen shots from as retrieved 2010-04-22)

2) The following is a real-time included page from the same site - how it actually looks in your web browser just now:


Disable Flash

If you want to get rid of annoying ads, and/or improve performance and security:

Developing Flash Content

As with any development for the Internet and web browsers, the following should be considered:

A few found resources: