Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Flash or No Flash

by Ben McMaster

What to choose? The easiest way to come to an end with that predicament is outlining what you want your website to deliver and then outlining the pros and cons of both Flash and HTML websites.

Flash Websites

Advantages:

No Design Limitation

Ever since the advent of web design, designers have been waiting for a miracle technology using which they would not have to worry about browser compatibility, tables, divs, layers, absolute/relative placement of objects and place their design elements anywhere on the screen.

You can embed any font of your choice without having to worry about the fonts the visitor has on his machine. No need to convert them to images anymore.

You can integrate any file format into your website, e.g. jpeg, gif, png, tif, vector files, mp3, wav, mpeg, avi etc.

Expandable/Contractible Design

The size of the display will adjust according to the browser window. This would become more evident when more users will access websites from cell phones, PDAs, car displays or any medium other than the desktop computers.

Interactivity

Flash gives great interactivity options for a more eye-catching multimedia experience. It allows you to add sound, i.e. speech or music, digital videos, 3d animations which allow you to demonstrate products and services in a more exciting manner. Including digital videos or 3d animations using flash permits more accessibility as compared to Media Player, Real Player and QuickTime.

Preloading

You can preload the whole flash website while making coffee and view the website without having to reload/refresh the page every time you want to see a new page.

Disadvantages:

Longer download time

Flash websites may take longer to download on the client browser as they are heavier than HTML/CSS websites. It can be frustrating for those who just need to get contact information off of the website while have low internet connection speed.

Plugin Download

Running a flash website on your browser requires you to download the latest flash player and with a lot of networks not allowing downloads on their user's computers.

Search Engine Access

Search Engines cannot access the content within flash animations, therefore making it hard for flash websites to get indexed by Search Engines.

Printing website content

It's easier to print content from html websites, if the crucial content in your flash website is animated, it would be nearly impossible for the user to print it for later use.

HTML/CSS Websites:

Advantages:

Search Engine Friendly

Search engines were originally built to index and list text-rich HTML documents, therefore this is the most search engine friendly document type available thus far.

Cost Effectiveness

HTML websites are more cost effective as compared to flash websites. Designing and updating a website in HTML takes far less time and cost than Flash websites.

Low Maintenance

HTML/CSS websites require minimal maintenance. If you need to change the website layout, you can do so by simply editing the CSS without having to touch the content of the website, while on the other hand in Flash the whole website would have to be republished.

Disadvantages:

Design Limitation

You may not be able to blow away the visitor with the animated, interactive design of your website.

Browser compatibility

There are browsers such as Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator, Safari, Opera etc. A lot of people use different versions of these browsers with all of them supporting different features. Designers have to put in extra effort to make the website appear same in all browsers. This might often mean rewriting code to make it appear the same in all browsers.

With that being said, we must add that with the technology changing at the split of a second, Flash too will change. CSS and HTML have reached the peak and they still cannot do things that Flash can.

We, along with a lot of other web design professionals foresee the content in flash websites becoming more search engine friendly in the future, till then, if you're looking for an interactivity rich impressive website, go for Flash and if you need a search engine friendly website, use HTML/CSS.

Flash often allow features that will enable your visitors to interact with the various applications on your website such as games, which of course will be, bring more visitors. In most cases, all browsers support flash so you will not have to worry if your website design is compatible. Every item created in flash will look exactly the same on all browsers.

About the Author

About the Author:
Design Box is full-service advertising agency specializing in Branding, Interactive, and Print services. For more information, visit Design Box under Flash Website Kuwait , Kuwait Website Design and Multimedia Presentation Kuwait.