Flash is a proprietary software (as opposed to open-source) that is dependent on both users installing a browser plugin as well as their device supporting Flash in the first place. What does that all mean?
- proprietary software
- Software that is owned by a particular company, such as Adobe owns Flash, and does or can require a license to use.
- open-source software
- As opposed to proprietary, open-source software is free to use and modify, and made publicly available to anyone who would like to use it to do so (typically) however they choose.
- browser plugin
- Software that typically must be installed into a browser, as it does not come with that browser by default, resulting in a less than 100% market share. Users with a browser that doesn’t have the plugin installed will be prompted to install, or be unable to access the content that relies on the plugin.
- In this case, anything from a laptop or desktop computer to mobile devices such as iPhone and iPad to other web-enabled systems such as Nintendo’s Wii or Apple TV.
Now that we’ve established the basics, let me explain in three simple points why I don’t use Flash on my clients’ sites.
- Flash is not supported on iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, or other phones like the Blackberry Curve and Bold phones for Android, so those users miss out completely on your site’s content (and therefore leave your site as fast as they can get back to the Google search bar).
- Flash is not easily indexed by Google, so any content you have in there is barely skimmed, at best. Your search result placement takes the hit.
- Flash is more expensive to develop and, unlike HTML5 & CSS3, isn’t easily updated. Want to make a simple change like making all of your links red instead of blue, that’ll take about 30 seconds with HTML & CSS, but could take hours or even days to do with Flash.
- Bonus Reason! Flash is the property of Adobe, and they therefore have control of licensing fees, development fees (Flash costs $199 for developers, plus you have to pay for upgrades), and the future of the platform. The web is built around open standards, it doesn’t cost money to get on and every website is pretty much treated neutrally as far as access goes (unless the site purposely restricts access or comes with fees). Building websites with HTML5 and CSS doesn’t cost a thing, I can create my images in any software I choose, and I can code in a simple text editing program if I’d like. WordPress is another example of open-source software: it’s provided free of charge to developers to customize all they’d like, no restrictions involved at all. I like to think of Flash as the CEO of a hospital, who sees patients as commodities to increase profits, and open-source platforms like WordPress and developing with HTML as Florence Nightingale, in it for the good of the people.
But What if I Really want Flash?
Ok so you’re dead set on having some Flash on your site. My first question is going to be “Why?” I don’t do things “just because I wanted it”, I build websites that have purpose and produce results. If you can answer that “Why?” question successfully, I may consider it, but there isn’t really a whole lot that most sites need that can’t be done with alternative methods to Flash. So the bottom line, basically, is if you want Flash, you might want to look elsewhere. But if you want a website that looks good and works on as many devices as possible, well by all means, please do get in touch!