Flash can be pretty and neat and can even help present important information. But we’ve been noticing a proliferation of websites built entirely in Flash lately. It’s not a good thing. Here’s why.
Flash is, in practice, not searchable. Search engines like Google can’t consistently search or index your content, if it’s all flash. For similar reasons, if someone wants to quote you or send your name to their associate, they can’t copy and paste any of your text. And it also means that someone trying to search your page for a particular term, can’t. Your text effectively becomes pictures. This also means that someone who is vision impaired, probably won’t be able to coax their screen reader into making sense of your precious content.
Also, most flash sites don’t have urls for separate pages. This means that someone can’t email you a link to a particular page. Which is annoying. If you have content that you think is important, why not make it available in discrete chunks that others can share. No one sends a link, of a flash site, to their friend with instructions, just click to the “page” called “about” and then click on “how to build such and such.” That’s annoying. It’s also annoying for users when they click the back button on their browser and end up going back to the last website, instead of the last page of your site.
Now, in fairness, I should add that there is a way to make flash sites that are searchable, machine readable, browser button enabled and page url enabled. But in practice these are rarely built. And to drive this point home, I just searched for a list of the best flash sites ever built. Then I randomly clicked on one of the sites in the list. I then went to www.guavestudios.com. This site, for all of it’s bells and whistles and prettiness, fails to comply to basic usability standards. This is especially interesting since they appear to be a web design firm, with a lot of money. I can’t post a link to their team page. And I can’t copy and paste the name of one of their team members from this page.
Oh, and I almost forgot to add: it’s also often slow.
Update: www.guavestudios.com is much better now.