Flash for websites?

Back in the bad old days of the web (Bubble 1.0 for those of you who remember it), Flash was everywhere. You couldn’t develop a website if it didn’t use Flash. Was it a good thing? Probably. It broke the web out of it’s static, photos and text only infancy. I honestly believe the web wouldn’t be the medium it is now if it wasn’t for those early Flash days.

However, Flash also came at a cost. Overhead, unsupported platforms, you name it. There was also the fact that back in those days, broadband wasn’t anywhere near as prevalent as it is now. So we had websites with two version, one with Flash, and one without. Not that this was a bad thing…it made sites available to everyone, broandband and dialup alike.

Then, it all stopped, for the most part anyway. There are still places that use Flash for their web interfaces, but for the most part, people figured out that all the baggage that Flash brought with it did nothing for the usability of the site. Yes, it’s pretty to look at, but seriously, which would you rather have? A site that works the way you want it to, or a site that is pretty but limited? A site that makes it easy to add content, or a site that you have to hard-code your content into? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-Flash, I just don’t see it as being viable for web interfaces. Cartoons, sure. Videos? Ok. Games, absolutely. Websites? Not so much. Embrace Web 2.0 (or whatever it’s called these days), learn CSS and AJAX, and code sites that are pretty and usable.

Don’t agree? Let me know your thoughts…leave me a comment.

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3 thoughts on “Flash for websites?”

  1. Actually, Flash was a bad thing for the web – that’s only my opinion, and here are my arguments:

    * not a standard – so as of today, the main dynamic management of the web is controlled by a company which can change its strategy at anytime. I’m not a communist, but I still think that the web shall be open, and standardized.

    * you’d better not be blind – or disabled – if you visit a Flash-powered web site. A complete Flash-based interface cannot be translated by screen lecture devices. Most Flash websites can’t be handled by the keyboard. Clearly, it’s for some part a designer issue – not a Flash issue – but Flash just told them “add these shiny graphics and animations to your web! your web is important, not the user who wants to explore it!”. Which is a pity.

    So while there are good stuff built with Flash (you named it, youtube – or any kind of video-based technologies; web games are also good uses of Flash), building a complete web interface in Flash today is quite a cynical move: “sorry if you’re disabled; anyway, I don’t care disabled people, they don’t look good in my community”.

    If the goal is to build an interface, javascript css can do wonderful things. Granted, it might be a bit more complex. But it’s going to be a lot more accessible.

    Did I say that I don’t like Flash?

  2. I appreciate your comments, but I think you have misunderstood my comments.

    I never said Flash was static (in fact, I said it broke the web out of it’s static birth). I said Flash was not ideal for website interfaces. You’re talking about Flash running Web APPLICATIONS. That’s something COMPLETELY different. And as far as Flash being not data-driven, while I agree it can be done, why beat your head against a wall to make a platform do something it wasn’t meant to do?

    Granted, there are some VERY impressive applications built on Flash (Youtube anyone?), but my argument was that Flash is not ideal for a general web interface.

  3. Huh? Static Flash? 1998 called and wants its comment back.

    Clearly you haven’t seen a copy of Flash since the Web 1.0 days.

    With serious applications like desktoptwo being done in Flash, I’d suggest doing your homework before calling Flash static, or suggesting that Flash isn’t data driven.

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