12 Reasons to Make the Switch from Flash

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So, how do you recognize a Flash website? Flash sites are the ones that make you watch a ‘Loading…’ animation, reshape your browser, start playing pulsing techno music and emanate all kinds of blips and ticks every time you roll over link. Another site describes Flash as the “blinking, animated frosting on Web sites.” Even Steve Jobs wrote a long later about how he hated Flash, saying he was determined “to leave the past behind.”

Oy.  It seems no one likes annoying animations and long-loading times.

Wait, that’s your site? You’re still using Flash? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. None of our WordPress themes use Flash and if you need a push in the right direction, below are twelve reasons to make the switch. Even if you’re not a Flash-abuser yourself, use this list to convince your fellow creatives to update their websites (it’s easy!). Sometimes the best help is a little tough love.

1. Flash is a  closed, proprietary system created by Adobe, which means it’s not open for anyone to examine, change and improve, and it could be withdrawn from the market. In contrast, HTML is an open standard, and HTML5 now supports many of the features Flash is able to do.

2. Flash only runs on Mac or Windows and costs a good chunk of $$$ in order to do so, whereas an HTML file is a text file and can be created on any computer in a simple text editor and no money.

3. Flash can take a loooooong time to load, while correctly built HTML sites are quick and easy to load because they are smaller downloads. Generally, you only have 8 seconds to attract a web visitors attention. Do you really want to introduce yourself with the “loading…” signal? Oh, not to mention, Flash websites are not cacheable so they have to reload every time a vistor comes, and so they have to wait… every. time.

4. You can’t use “back” and “forward” buttons on Flash sites, which is how most browsers – and people – intuitively browse the web.

5. On a Flash site, copying text and images is difficult and often impossible. On an HTML site, you can. Flash sites don’t let you do much of anything except sit back and wait, which is a frustrating experience for users on the other end.

6. Flash is far more difficult to update than regular HTML code. If you are going to be updating your site often, or are paying someone else to, it will take more work and that means a loss of time and money.

7. Flash is not accessible for people with disabilities. Enough said.

8. Flash doesn’t work on mobile devices. Flash is only viewable if your browser has the Flash plugin installed. Websites that rely on Flash present a completely inconsistent (and often unusable) experience for fast-growing percentage of the users who don’t use a desktop browser. Adobe itself has publicly neutered Flash on mobile devices. In short, you cannot view Flash on mobile devices. That means if you want your Flash website to be viewable on an iPhone or iPad or any other mobile device, you’re out of luck.

9. Flash Player is often buggy and crashes a lot. Not to mention, it requires constant security updates. If you still have Flash installed on your browsers, think how many times you’ve had to update it already this year!

10. Flash is cumbersome, and often difficult for users to navigate. Site usability is your priority, and you’d be surprised how how often a visitor will take information accessibility over a great-looking Flash one.  Pretty ain’t everything.

11. Intros with Flash just annoy.  Websites exist for their visitors, not the other way around. Unless your web strategy includes wasting visitor’s time, there’s no reason to have a Flash intro to your site.

12. Flash sites are HORRIBLE for SEO puposes. Content on Flash sites is not indexable by search engines (HTML sites are indexable, of course). While normal visitors might see the actual content, search engines simply see Flash embed codes. In the eyes of the search engine crawlers, any Flash content is meaningless. And if someone doesn’t have Flash installed or has it disabled, they miss out on your site just like the search engine bots do. All in all, Flash makes it extremely difficult for anyone to find and enjoy your site.

Have we overlooked any reasons to switch from Flash? Do you disagree with our criticism of Flash-powered websites? Express yourself in the comments below.

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Posted by , at Graph Paper Press

Thad is the founder of Theme.Works and Graph Paper Press. Previously, he produced online multimedia and documentary projects for USA Today including the inauguration of President Barack Obama and many others. He lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife Abby.

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11 thoughts on “12 Reasons to Make the Switch from Flash”

  1. Flash has actually been searchable for a couple of years, now. But that still leaves all your other reasons intact. The mobile reason predominates, in my view. Ithink I’ve read that more than half of all web views are now mobile, and that’s growing. Including my next few hours – I’m off to an appointment!

    1. Definitely, Mary! It’s amazing how much of our experience is mobile nowadays. Thanks for sharing the updates!

  2. do you know your clientèle?
    I think most of us artists and photographers are very very happy, if it is as difficult as possible to steal/copy our texts and images – 5. would obviously be a pro-argument for flash !!
     

    1. Yep, Phil, that could be the case for some! Doesn’t really outweigh the other negatives of Flash though, and you can protect images and such using HTML which is the standard. Thanks for the comment!

    2. Well, I think that you better start rethinking the purpose of the web Phil, stealing is just another word for appreciating your work, and you’re as happy as that it’s as difficult as possible for your fans to appreciate your work! Not to mention, that if they never get to see it…

  3. Agreed on every point. Regardless of people stating that Flash is searching by search engines… is really isn’t. There are things that must be done in order for it to be searchable by search engines and most people aren’t doing that work – thus, your statement is TRUE!

    Great post. Thanks for these points. Hopefully, the laggers will catch up sooner (rather than later) and get their sites updated!

  4. i disagree to two points of the twelve, they are 1. loading 2. security
    1. loading–it does not load everytime a visitor visits the site, first time it will take time to load but second time it will load very faster even faster than a normal html website.

    2. in todays world knowledge theft is a crime, so flash gives the clients the data security, that is no data can be copied or edited from flash, so i consider the data security to be an mass advantage.

    note: a few false information is spread, please stick to the facts.

  5. Am I missing something??

    So, you think Flash stinks.. whatever. What of it? Are you merely making an unnecessary comment without proposing a solution/alternative piece of software? If not then please point out any verbiage concerning that alternative.

    You do know what is said about people who like to point to the faults without pointing to a possible solution as well.

    AND Jessica.. what exactly is SO great about this mundane post.. if I might inquire?

    If that got you hot, what are you going to do if someone blogs for your information: “DID YOU KNOW THAT DIRT IS VERY DIRTY?”

    Now there’s a post that should drive you right into ecstasy!

    God, what a bunch

    1. Modern web technologies, like HTML5, SVG and javascript have made Flash pretty much an obsolete technology. But don’t take our word for it. Adobe (the creators of Flash) are helping to lead the move away from Flash:

      http://blogs.adobe.com/webplatform/2013/10/23/snap-the-javascript-svg-library-for-the-modern-web/

      Basically, anything you could do in Flash, you can now do directly in the browser using the modern web technologies I mentioned above. For example, check this out:

      http://snapsvg.io/demos/

    2. @sorryforyou: Interesting. You have totally negated yourself by not offering one single solution. All you have done here is taken the post and the comments as some sort of personal attack. Unless you yourself are the Flash program, I don’t see why you’re getting THIS upset over the other comments, or this post. It was a well thought out, well written post. It’s a perspective and an opinion. People either agree or disagree. However, you decided to attack in the most passive aggressive way and I don’t see how you have contributed at all.

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