Dangerous Common Sense

focused on Web Design and Marketing

What’s Flash Great For?

Posted by Ozdachs on April 25, 2010

I often tell business owners why they shouldn’t use Flash. (See this post for an example warning!) I might even tell them too loudly and forcefully, because I feel like I am shouting into the wind when I try to explain that just because Flash is bright and shiny, that doesn’t mean that Flash belongs on your web site.

I’ll admit it. Sometimes, Flash does belong on a web site. It’s an extremely effective tool when used correctly.

Here’s when I suggest using Flash:

  • When a visual walk-through of your store/home/product functionality will help visitors understand what you’re offering. These uses include:
    • Virtual home tours by real estate agents.
    • Property tours by innkeepers.
    • Room tours by designers.
    • Assembly instructions for your products.
    • Video of your product in action.
  • Introductory testimonials or video blogs. These clips let your clients and prospects know more about you, and the warmth of your voice and face can carry the day.
  • Examples of your work if you’re an animator, videographer, or graphic designer. Showing how snappy and cool you are can help you get new jobs and can even show off your Flash skills for non-web projects such as business presentations.

Still, my recommendation is that these bits of Flash be embedded in a basic, non-Flash web page. And, whatever you do, don’t make your home page require Flash.

I have used Flash in sites, but my Flash objects have been movie-like things for the visitor to watch. I don’t use Flash for site navigation or to trigger any actions.

My first incorporation of Flash was in 2004 for a site redesign of a bed-and-breakfast. I moved the Flash introduction from the home page to a page about the property’s facilities. People looking for a place to stay no longer had to wait 30 seconds or more for the movie to download (remember, most people in 2004 were using dial-up). But, when they clicked on an inside page to see pictures of the guest rooms, the old Flash introduction was a great virtual tour.

There’s an ego problem with Flash, I think. A good Flash movie takes a lot of work and it can look stunning. So, the designers who have just created this Flash masterpiece wants to show off their handiwork. They make the Flash work of art the centerpiece of the web site.

Wrong!

The web site is not about the graphic talent of the web designer (unless the site is the designer’s own). The site should be all about solving a problem for the visitor, your potential client.

And, that’s when Flash can be great. When it’s used as a tool — just like other components of a web page — to show the visitor how you can solve their problem. Whether you’re keeping them from sleeping on the streets or you’re relieving their anxiety about your qualifications, Flash can be a great tool for your site.

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