Ah, Flash. We could probably write an entire book on why you shouldn’t use Flash, but for now let’s just focus on the two top reasons Flash isn’t optimal for today’s web experience.
Everyone and their mother are on mobile these days.
Your iPhone, iPad, Android, and Blackberry devices don’t support Flash, which means any website with Flash, viewed through a mobile device, is inaccessible to users and your site visitors will not be able to view your flash content.
This may not seem too bad, until you realize that it translates into billions of lost traffic – 6.8 billion, to be exact, which is the total number of mobile subscriptions worldwide as of February 2013[i]. It also translates into lost sales – last year, 17.3% of Black Friday shopping in the U.S. were done through an Apple iOS device, while 3.75% were done through Android products[ii].
Even if your target market doesn’t use mobile (which is unlikely in 2014), it can still alienate users. Remember, Flash only works for desktop users who have the plugin installed on their browsers.
This seems like a rather large sacrifice for a few fancy effects on your website. And did you know, many of these effects can be achieved with CSS3?
SEO and Flash mix about as well as oil and water.
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, means developing your website in such a way that it is easily found on search engines such as Google. SEO plays a huge role in driving traffic to your website, because if users can’t find it, then they certainly won’t be able to visit it.
SEO relies largely on your website’s keyword rich content to determine where it shows up on a user’s search results; search engine crawlers have trouble crawling content embedded in Flash.
Flash websites also typically share a single URL, which means you can’t automatically direct users to the right section on your site. This can be detrimental especially if you are running online ads that you want to point to a specific page on your website because your link will always take them to the Homepage and they have to look for their desired content manually. Again, this is bad for SEO as search engines are unable index individual pages properly.
Seriously, don’t use Flash.
With the availability of other web development technologies, today’s developers have even less reason to use Flash as these tools now offer functions that used to be Flash-exclusive, such as CSS transitions and animations, without sacrificing accessibility and searchability.
Flash isn’t dead, per se. There are still places where Flash works great (like games) – but your business website is NOT one of them.
[i] “Global mobile statistics 2013 Part A: Mobile subscribers; handset market share; mobile operators” http://mobithinking.com/mobile-marketing-tools/latest-mobile-stats/a#subscribers
[ii] “Apple’s iPhone, iPad used to place over 80% of mobile sales on Black Friday” http://appleinsider.com/articles/13/11/29/apples-iphone-ipad-account-for-over-80-percent-of-online-black-friday-shopping