Feb 11, 2009 by Marissa Berger
Flash animations on websites have a bad rap. I attended a meeting yesterday where someone said “Flash is never done right.” I disagree completely. I think this bad rap comes from all of the animated site intros of the recent past. We all got used to quickly finding the “skip intro” button. These intros had their time; a time where cool animation was new and we were more patient. Now, we want content, and we want it quickly.
When Flash is done right, it can communicate a strong feeling much, much better than a static image can. It can also handle a lot of content in a small space without a feeling of being overwhelmed. In my defense of Flash, I want to cover the main objections that come up.
1. Google doesn’t see it.
It is true that Google does not see what is inside a Flash movie. This means that unless you are an artist, you should not have a site that is 100% Flash. But you can integrate Flash movies into your pages. Smaller animations can add a tremendous visual appeal, and if you have the right text on the rest of the page (outside of the Flash movie), Google will see it just fine.
2. It downloads slow.
This is only true if not done right. If your Flash movie is a slideshow of 25 images and all 25 images are embedded in the movie, then this will be true. However, Flash can be coded so it uses each item it needs only when it needs it and from outside of the movie itself. There really is no need for a “loading” type of message anymore.
3. It’s harder to maintain.
Again, this was true a long time ago. Now, with the use of XML, Flash movies can be updated easily and without even needing the Flash software itself.
4. It costs more.
This is an unfair comparison. Comparing the cost of a static stock image and the cost of a Flash animation is like comparing apples to oranges. Of course, Flash will cost more than a static image. But it will have more of an impact also.
5. What if people don’t have the player?
This really should not be a concern, except for viewing websites on cell phones. On the web, as of December 2008, Flash Player 9 has reached an average of 98% within all markets. The specific statistics can be seen in the Adobe site. The issue is not whether someone has the player or not, but which version of the player? For example, today, you may not want to have your Flash movie optimized for Player 10 because only around 55% os users have it. But Player 9 would present no problem at all.
Flash animation can be a wonderful addition to your website. It just needs to be done right.