Building Your Website, Step-By-Step

Should I Have a Flash Website?

"Another web design firm said they would design a 'Flash' website for me. Will you do that?"

It's a frequent question. The answer is no. Let's explore why.

First, let's look at what Flash is.

Flash is a software package from Macromedia. I readily admit it's quite amazing.

In fact, it's so amazing that a web designer can get you very excited, imagining what your website will be like with all that great Flash action. One designer we know says in his brochure, "We design websites so cool your customers will show your friends."

I guess that's okay if you want a website to show off to your friends. I'd rather build a website that will promote your business, without costing you an arm and a leg. To heck with showing off to your friends.

Have you ever gone to a website, waited while the page loaded, and then watched an animated presentation before you could go to the real website?

That's a "Flash" presentation. It's really "cool." So cool, that most web designers put a "Skip intro" button on it so you don't have to watch it. And, if you're like most of us, you skip the intro.

Why? Because it wastes time.

Most Flash presentations take awhile to load on your computer, then you have to wait while they run, then you finally get to the information you want. (And you have to wait a bit for that to load, too.)

So Flash is a nuisance.

From your standpoint, here's why you don't want a Flash website:

  • It's expensive. Developing good Flash elements takes a top-notch Flash designer. And takes time.
  • It slows down your website. Not everyone has a broadband connection.
  • It gets in the way of your guests who want to use your website. And you want their experience it be easy and pleasant.

Is there a place for Flash? Sure.

Check out one of my favorite websites, They use Flash quite effectively, combining animation and sound. Would you like to guess at the thousands of dollars that cost?

One place you might want to use Flash is in putting audio and video on your website, not as an "intro" but as option buttons where your guests choose to watch a demonstration, or to listen to an explanation, to to hear a customer describe an experience. For this, Flash is far superior to the typical approach to audio and video. That's because Flash is already built in most web browsers, so you can the audio or video clip almost instantly, without special programs like QuickTime, Microsoft Media Player, or RealMedia Player.

For audio and video clips, we'd rather see you use a service that makes it easy to manage and post the clips on your website. They won't even tell you it's Flash (because it's more detail that you don't need to know). The service makes it easy; the hard way is buying the Flash software, learning to use it, and figuring out how to put the clips on your website.

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