Not so long ago, the only way to have a half-decent looking animation on a website was using Adobe Flash.
Movement and interactive images could help sites engage with their customers and it was therefore a useful tool for some sites.
Because, at Seven Creative, we have always focussed on creating usable and optimised websites without sacrificing anything to ‘floweriness’, we’ve generally always avoided using Flash or, at least, only ever used it where appropriate. We could see the usefulness of the software for some niche sites, however, the negatives always outweighed any potential gains.
This is why we could see the impending end of Flash when most of the industry was still using this technology.
One of the main issues with Flash is that it can’t be read by search engines. Sites that are built this way – or even have areas like their navigation in Flash – will not index for these generally highly important site elements. Opportunities are lost as function is sacrificed to form.
One of our other main bug niggles with Flash is that you can’t edit it in the way that you can easily edit HTML using a WYSIWYG editor which is why it’s not something we would feel comfortable providing to our customers. Technology has evolved and there are newer and better methods for providing the same level of animation and interaction but with easily editable content.
Roll on a few years and Apple release their range of mobile devices that don’t support Flash. Suddenly, there are a lot of websites that won’t display properly – if at all – on some mobile devices.
This shook the industry and signalled the beginning of the end.
Android – Google’s operating system – is released and initially supported Flash, however, they’ve recently said that, from version 4.1, they’ll no longer be supporting this anachronistic technology. So, from August 15th 2012, any Android device that does not currently have Flash Player installed will never be able to install it.
There is no doubt that other browsers will also begin to end support for this technology over the next few years.
Good news for us and our customers but bad news for the hundreds of thousands of websites out there that rely on Flash.
You might think that we’re still OK at the moment as this currently only really effects mobile devices, however, they already account for a good chunk of the visitors to most websites and this is only set to increase. This is before you get us started on the missed opportunities in search engine optimisation terms!
If you want our advice, act now. Dumping Flash might not be such a big issue for most sites and may not require a full rebuild.
If digital marketing is all about spotting and taking opportunities, seeing an opportunity and ignoring it is madness!