Web developers and businesses continue to develop Flash based websites, despite the well-documented drawbacks in terms of SEO and usability.

When used well, Flash can be a great tool for the presentation of rich content, but pure flash websites, though they may look good, can annoy the hell out of visitors.

After the jump, some reasons why…

Oleg Ishenko of SEOResearcher.com believes Flash is evil, and has 5 good reasons to avoid it:

Flash requires bandwidth

“There are still lots of people surfing the Net via dialup or other limited bandwidth connection. Flash files, especially those using sound effects, embedded movies or bitmap images, can take a while to load.”


Disabled back button

“People not able to use Back button will click the third most important navigation element – that X button in the top right. Besides, if you are going to promote a Flash site via PPC, you should know that Google AdWords doesn’t approve pages with disabled back button.”

Flash ignores users needs

“Whereas the ground rules of marketing emphasize the concentration on the users’ needs, Flash websites ignore them. Take the infamous site intros and splash screens that are as much annoying as the 45 minutes of advertising and previews in cinemas.”

Problems with third-party Flash developers

“You might face some serious troubles with developers. Some of them code their project to prevent them from editing, thus making you to hire them over and over again as you need to do even the smallest modifications. “

Search engines do not like Flash

“..perhaps the most important: not every search engine is able to crawl and index the content of Flash movies. Even those that can often do it with errors. This is in particular the case of a website fully implemented in Flash as a single file.”

All useful, and fat for the anti-Flash fire.

Here are three further observations from Team E-consultancy…

Flash is inaccessible

While Macromedia has made some changes over the years to try to improve accessibility for Flash, it remains a no-go area for many users who browse the internet with screen readers, and suchlike. Being graphic-heavy, Flash doesn’t work so well for text readers (ditto Googlebot). Other problem areas have included too much focus on the mouse, lack of ALT text functionality, screwy navigation, lack of captioning, inability for pages to be bookmarked. And so on.

Flash forces users to think
What did Steve Krug say? Whether this is about newer versions of Flash presenting instruction manuals to the disabled (as proposed by Jakob Nielsen), or some revolving icon-based navigation that takes you three minutes to figure out how to use it, Flash makes too many demands on the user. As Mike Baxter says, people are cognitively lazy. That’s why 8 out of 10 people (or more) browse links, rather than type in keywords. People don’t WANT to think.

Flash crashes browsers

In the past fortnight the lack of the most recent version of Flash has caused my browser to crash about a dozen times. It is, I think, linked to online Flash-based display ads. Do I a) upgrade Flash or b) lament the lack of backwards-compatibility in this upgrade, or c) stop visiting sites like Sky and NewsNow, which have hosted ads that caused this to happen? A pain in the head, whichever way you look at it.

 Do you have any other reasons for avoiding Flash? Or are we missing the point? Leave your comments below…