Why I Will Never Use Flash in My Designs, and Why You Shouldn't Either

Lately, I've been getting requests from businesses for website designs. Of course, they want it designed in—you guessed it—Flash.

Sure, Flash could have some practical uses, but it shouldn't be used in a business' website. Even after many rants on the internet about why Flash shouldn't be used, I still get many requests for Flash design.

I've acutally discovered that a good way to find out whether you should be using something or not is to search "x sucks", rather than "reviews of x". You can read the results to find out why you should not be using x. Be sure to read more than a couple of the pages to get multiple reasons why it sucks.

Here are some of the reasons why I will not use Flash in my designs.

1. Poor Accessibility

First of all, depending on who your site is targeted at, your users might not even have the Flash plug-in installed. In addition to requiring a plug-in for users to view your content, is it okay for it to take longer for your users to see the content? Those who have slower connections may not want to wait.

2. Bad for SEO

Are you willing to sacrifice exposure on search engines? Search engines can have a hard time indexing text inside of Flash elements. However, Google has improved support for indexing Flash content.

3. Useless Animation

I'm sure you've noticed many sites in Flash using cheesy (and horribly slow) transitions and useless effects. They seem to go by a rule of "If it can be animated, it must be animated".

Aside from useless animations, I've seen Flash sites with intro pages, stupid music that can't be turned off, and that open in popup windows that force you into fullscreen, all in one site. I'm sure you would be pretty annoyed if you happened to stumble upon that site.

4. Non-standard GUI

This one is similar to the last one. There are Flash sites that have some strange navigation design with links just floating around that you have to search the page for. You click on one and zoom into one part of the page. You zoom in again. What if you want to go back without searching for a "back" button? The browser's Back button will not even work.

HTML 5

I've written another post with examples of how HTML 5 could replace add-ons such as Flash when it gains full browser support. For example, if you're using Flash for displaying videos, you could use the video element. Other new elements in HTML 5 include audio and canvas.

So, please do not ask me to design your site in Flash. You should also not use Flash, either, unless it is absolutely necessary. And if it is, please do not ask me to do it.

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3 Comments

  1. Justin D.
    July 18, 2009

    Nice post, but what about site like Youtube, which need Flash as a way for everyone to see videos?

  2. July 18, 2009

    Of course, there are some uses for Flash, such as for video like you mentioned. I mostly meant Flash sites where Flash is required to see the content.

    Also, when HTML 5 is supported by all browsers, the new video element can be used without any plugins.

  3. July 29, 2009

    As someone who works for a search engine marketing company, I have a particular disdain for Flash-based sites. The non-standard GUI comment, in particular, stood out as a good way to describe the problem of commonly difficult navigation on these sites.

    Pages built entirely in Flash will be the animated GIFs of this decade: passe to the point that webmasters who used them will be ashamed of their work. But Flash has its place as an ADDITIONAL dynamic element. If the primary content on a page is text and images, having a small Flash element doesn't really hurt anything. It can make a site look more professional or maybe have a bit of an interactive element.