People ask me sometimes: Do you do Flash websites?

I don’t. And I have better reasons then being too lazy to learn Flash.

For those who don’t know, Adobe Flash (formerly Macromedia Flash) is a multimedia platform used to add animation, video, and interactivity to web pages. (Thanks Wikepedia.)

If you want to see some websites that run on Flash, here’s some examples:

http://www.louisvuittonjourneys.com/legends/

http://www.dietcoke.com/

http://www.theoleg.com/hes/ (Which is actually Herbal Essences, you couldn’t tell from the URL there)

If you look up ‘flash websites’ in any search engine, you’ll see there are plenty of beautiful looking Flash websites out there. So why am I a hater when it comes to this technology?

It’s expensive (and usually overkill) for the average website.
Most people I work with are small businesses who can’t afford to pay a lot for a website. When a Flash website loads, it’s basically like running a mini movie in which every frame has to be thoughtfully put together. You need special software, and expertise. Flash websites cost double (or more) than your typical CMS website.

If you have an interactive game or a vodka empire to fund your website design, go for it. But if you are a small business owner who just wants your website to be findable by the average person, Flash is likely too flashy for you.

It’s not search engine friendly.
When a search engine like Google looks at your website, it’s not looking at your pretty fonts or your bold color choices. It sees how your site is organized as well as page tags, titles, descriptions, and written content. Search engines have a hard time reading Flash websites (you have to go out of your way to make them search engine friendly). And since search engines are what drives a majority of website traffic for many businesses, few people want to decrease their likelihood of being found.

It’s not customer friendly.
Flash websites can take 2-5 times as long to load as regular websites. And most people don’t like to be kept waiting. Here’s one company that switched away from Flash just for that reason.

Also some devices can’t even load Flash (like Android phones, though there are some workarounds), alienating a whole group of customers for you. Only recently has Flash become supported on iOS devices (re: Mac). HTML and CMS websites show up on any device that can access the internet.

Flashy can equal sketchy.
Flash websites to me kind of remind me of those people who get really excited about Powerpoint’s features. You know, every slide is a different background, they have a different transition for every slide, etc. As your potential web developer, I want to spend the time making your site clean-looking, useful, easy to navigate, and informative. In other words, the information on the actual slides are what’s important to me, not how clever you can be about it. I think part of me just thinks things that are overly filled with bells and whistles are trying to conceal something, like the flashing lights on some Vegas venue trying to cover up a decaying facade. My personal bias but certainly a reason.

Proprietary stuff is not something to build on.
There is lots of software on the internet that is open source: OpenOffice and WordPress are great examples. The obvious benefit to open source is the whole free (or really cheap) aspect but something even better than that: there are hundreds of thousands of people all working on making it better.

Adobe owns Flash. If there is a bug with some Flash update, we have to all wait for Adobe to fix it. Bug in your favorite open source software? Gets fixed almost instantly (or post it on a forum and someone will tell you a workaround).

Experts in the web development field don’t like Flash.
When I don’t like something, sometimes I wonder “Is my judgement bad?” But when enough other innovative people don’t like something, I feel better.

Why Steve Jobs Didn’t Like Flash: http://www.apple.com/hotnews/thoughts-on-flash/
Why Google doesn’t like Flash: http://articles.businessinsider.com/2010-06-05/tech/30022631_1_seo-death-google-adobe-labs
Why designers hate Flash: http://www.arctickiwi.com/blog/10-reasons-why-we-hate-flash-on-the-web

You don’t need Flash to have a dynamic website.
You can have, say, a Javascript slideshow. You can have video on your site. You can have drop down menus. There are plenty of ways to have some ‘cool’ factors on your website without using this software.

So if you are considering a website or a redesign, please know that friends help friends say no to Flash.

More information on website types can be seen here: http://breakingeveninc.com/website-types/
More on website costs in this month’s Website Magazine: http://www.websitemagazine.com/content/blogs/posts/pages/your-designer-makes-what.aspx