Flash Based Websites – Flash Movies

Flash is a technology by Macromedia that creates animations, interactive websites and other fancy features that can be embedded into a web page.

The Flash file is called a movie file. Once the file has been downloaded it will “play”.

You probably have already encountered websites containing Flash movies. Some designers use Flash to create an introduction movie (also known as a splash page) or will create the whole website in Flash.

Pros and Cons of Using Flash on a Website

Using Flash on a website has it’s pros and cons.

The Cons of Using Flash on Websites

Visitors to the site will have to have special software installed on their machine to view Flash movies. People who are not comfortable with making changes to their computer will not install the Flash Player if requested to install it.

Visitors that use special software to read web pages will not be able to use your website.

Sites built totally in Flash are not search engine friendly. Some search engines cannot read any content in the site.

“As many of you already know, Flash is inherently a visual medium, and Googlebot doesn’t have eyes. Googlebot can typically read Flash files and extract the text and links in them, but the structure and context are missing. Moreover, textual contents are sometimes stored in Flash as graphics, and since Googlebot doesn’t currently have the algorithmic eyes needed to read these graphics, these important keywords can be missed entirely. All of this means that even if your Flash content is in our index, it might be missing some text, content, or links. Worse, while Googlebot can understand some Flash files, not all Internet spiders can.”

Source: Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Best uses of Flash
Thursday, July 05, 2007

Update June 30, 2008

“Google has been developing a new algorithm for indexing textual content in Flash files of all kinds, from Flash menus, buttons and banners, to self-contained Flash websites. Recently, we’ve improved the performance of this Flash indexing algorithm by integrating Adobe’s Flash Player technology….”

Google learns to crawl Flash

Also see, “What are the current technical limitations of Google’s ability to index Flash?” at Improved Flash indexing post at Google Webmaster Central Blog which answers some of the questions about this new indexing capability.

“…Content owners and developers do not have to do anything to the millions of deployed SWF files to make them more searchable. Existing SWF content is now searchable using Google search, and in the future Yahoo! Search, dramatically improving the relevance of RIAs and rich media experiences that run in Adobe Flash Player. As with HTML content, best practices will emerge over time for creating SWF content that is more optimized for search engine rankings….”

SWF searchability FAQ at Adobe.

“…Our major issue with the recent Flash announcement was with designers who now feel it is okay to tell users that this Flash update is the answer to their ranking problems. These Flash designers simply either do not get it or they are out to scam end users….”

Bruceclay.com – Bruce’s Guide to Appropriate Use of Flash

“…Flash content is fundamentally different from HTML on webpage URLs and being able to parse links in the Flash code and text snippets does not make Flash search-engine friendly. I think it’s great that Google’s digging deeper into Flash, but I don’t believe web developers should be any less wary than they’ve been in the past about Flash-based websites or Flash-embedded content….”

Flash and SEO – Compelling Reasons Why Search Engines & Flash Still Don’t Mix

Read the entire article quoted above for reasons why Flash still won’t be search engine friendly.

“…With this latest innovation in crawling Flash, Google can more easily access the text in Flash, but they still can’t process it quite as well as it can HTML text because they aren’t extracting any meta data about that text. As I mentioned earlier, search engines are now storing all kinds of meta data based on the structure of the text in HTML, like if it’s in a title tag, or an H1 and so on. So Flash-based text has that disadvantage….”

Search-Friendly Flash?

Keep in mind, this update is for Google and Yahoo only, don’t forget about the other search engines and directories who find your website which are not fed information by either of these.

Designers who build sites in Flash have a tendency to do really fancy sites. Hence the file is very large and takes a long time to download to the visitor’s computer before playing. This could be a problem if the website visitor is using a dialup connection. Even on ADSL some Flash based sites take a long time to load.

Building something in Flash will take time. If you are going to do this yourself there is quite a learning curve to be able to use the program properly and be able to insert the programming features of the program. Hiring a professional could be expensive.

There are some good times to use Flash if you keep in mind the visitor has to have special software to view Flash files.

The Pros of Using Flash on Websites

If you are sure that the website visitors will have the latest greatest machine, software and internet connection then downloading a Flash movie wouldn’t be a problem to that audience.

Flash is good for creating a presentation movie. If you have a promotional presentation you wish to show on the website then provide a link to it. The visitor then can make the choice to view it or not.

Instructional videos could be done in Flash.

Animated graphics can be done in Flash.

Flash files are vector graphics which means when resized they do not loose their quality or clarity.

Flash files are browser independent. (the user still needs a plugin to view files though)

In this article we have shown the pros and cons to having a Flash based website and Flash graphics.

Now you will have to determine whether your target audience will appreciate the use of Flash movies on your site or find it an hindrance or deterrent.

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10 Responses to Flash Based Websites – Flash Movies

  1. marian mccanless Says:

    Personally when arrive at a website that uses flash I click out immediately. Flash sights just take too long to load. I ssupect that most web users feel the same….we want instant gratification. Depending on the purpose of the site, using flash could be detrimental to the whatever the may be.

  2. usha Says:

    i totally agree with marian. Websites with flash take very long time for loading and some websites do not have skip option also. Now if it does support SEO also i donno what is the point of using flash?

  3. Free TV Shows And Movies Says:

    I don’t fully agree with Marian. Why? Flash sites don’t take too long to load, you probably have a slow internet connection. HBO is a flash website, the same with Monoface! We understand that Google does not read flash content… now type in True Blood on Google. Above 90 million results HBO is ranked first even above Wikipedia, so what are we saying?

  4. Web Page Mistakes Says:

    HBO has the money to have exceptional servers. This plays a part on the delivery of any website.

    HBO also has used other marketing techniques to get where they are and are not relying on search to be found.

    For the average website owner they don’t have the resources to do this.

    You can’t always blame a slow internet connection for your slow loading Flash website.

  5. grank Says:

    HBO is a flash website, the same with Monoface! We understand that Google does not read flash content… now type in True Blood on Google. Above 90 million results HBO is ranked first even above Wikipedia, so what are we saying?

  6. Web Page Mistakes Says:

    HBO has a lot more going for it than organic searches in the search engines. If you too had that kind of money to build your site to that popularity you could use Flash. It also matters what your target audience wants to see. If they don’t mind waiting for a movie to download before playing then it’s ok.

  7. Mindsoothe Reviews Says:

    yes, I totally envy those people who are really good with flash. “Some designers use Flash to create an introduction movie (also known as a splash page) or will create the whole website in Flash.” … I have tried a lot of tutorials and yes, it was not easy. And I am amazed by those people who can really work with flash-based websites in just days…

    Though majority of those flash sites are very nice too look at, I still would prefer a html/php based sites since they are more search engine friendly.

    Jane P.

  8. Jeff Thompson Says:

    Flash movies and applications should be used at a minimum level when developing a website, or else your website will be at risk of taking too much time for loading, thus causing visitors to lose interest. On the other hand, Flash makes websites look professional, interactive and attractive. In the end, there has to be a balance of how you use it in your website.

    Jeff the Shed Guy
    Project Manager
    Home of the: sheds Prescott

  9. Garden Groom Says:

    If your goig to build a website for profit, using flash is about the last thing you should do. You might end up with the worlds best looking web site with absoluty no visitors. What a shame!

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