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Is Flash helping your web business?

Flash is a multimedia platform developed by Macromedia. It has been lambasted so much recently that Macromedia have had to put up usability tips on their web site.

What went wrong with Flash?

  • It is abused.
  • It breaks web fundamentals.
  • It diverts funds from more important areas.

Flash encourages misuse

  • Webd designers and site owner create animation and large graphics just because they can and not because they should.
  • It has reintroduced the idea of a splash screen, the Flash splash screen. Added to this is the fact that  the stop button does not work on the browser to allow the user to stop the presentation. Most splash screens thankfully have a 'skip intro' button on them.
  • Designers have to design their own Graphical User Interface (GUI) for the Flash presentation and many feel they have to design original GUI's and not reuse GUI's people are used to. This forces the user to learn the specific GUI design.
  • As Flash is created and dominated by designers the look more than the content is concentrated upon.

 Does Flash breaks basic web fundamentals

  • The back button on the browser does not work for Flash presentations. When pressed the user is brought back to the very start of the presentation - not the previous section. This can be overcome by creating many sections within the presentation that are then joined together to create the full presentation.
  • The user cannot search within the page.
  • Some sites use Flash redirects where if the servers find the user has Flash on their machine they force the user to enter the Flash site rather than asking the user if they wish to go to the Flash site. This breaks a fundamental premise of the web, empowerment of the user.
  • Link colors are disabled so navigation is difficult.
  • The user has no way of changing the text size used.
  • Flash presentations are difficult for users with disabilities to see/read.
  • The address bar no longer works.
  • It cannot be spidered by search engines
  • Local search cannot be possible by web clients
  • Translation engines cannot interpret flash text


  • A Flash page can be more expensive than a noflashy but informative page
  • Updating a page is tricky and expensive
  • The cost of designing the Flash presentation diverts funds from the core requirements and improving the overall site.
  • Due to the cost fewer pages are designed which forces the Flash pages to be superficial in their content and not have the depth of information that is needed.
  • Due to the cost of a full time Flash designer, outside agencies are normally used - outside agencies do not know the business as well as people within the company.

Think before you flashterbate!

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Last modified on 27 june 2004

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