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J2 Blog
J2 Blog

10-11-2009

To Flash or not to Flash



Many website designers rely on Flash to build entire websites.  Flash websites are, well, flashy.  They are full of 
 animation effects and sound effects.  Flash can create a very pleasing web experience for your visitors, but there are drawbacks.

Don't Overdo it.

It's tempting to have moving parts all over your site and to have sound effects for every mouse move, but don't overdo it.     You will drive visitors away from your site if you do.

Make sure that any part of your site that is animated in Flash enhances your message and doesn't distract from it.  For example, if you're selling clothing it's fine to have a Flash slideshow which displays your product.  It's not a good idea to include a flash announcement directing people to your contact page, or any other part of the site that does not directly highlight your products.

Also, if you decide to use Flash for navigation buttons try to avoid complex animation every time someone mouses over or clicks a button.   It's fun to see that animation the first couple of times, but it gets old really fast.   You don't want repeat visitors to avoid navigating your site.

Mobile Issues:

The iPhone, which has a great mobile browser, does not support Flash.  So if you want people on mobile phones to see or use any content on your site that might be written in Flash, you should use something else or have your website designer make a separate page just for mobile phones that displays that content in a different way.

You can use something else.

DHTML (Dynamic HTML) can create animation effects that are very similar to some Flash effects.   If all you want is a slideshow that fades images in and out, DHTML can serve that purpose well.  Similarly, DHTML can be used to move images across the screen and create text effects.

Whether you use Flash, DHTML or some other animation technique, use it wisely.  Remember that your message and the functionality of your site are more important than cool effects.