Flash has indeed caught on the web. It provides an easy way to put animated and interactive movies on web sites which would otherwise not have been possible. When Flash first made its impact on the web, it was put to two main uses – Animated banner advertisements and Flash intros. Web designers thought that Flash lent a professional look to their web sites – If a web site had Flash, it was like a feather in the web designers hat as it meant that the latest technologies were employed on the site.
Flash actually got the power of animation in the common man’s hands, because it was so easy to create animation and develop interactivity. So we saw a profuse use of it in the form of Flash web site intros. I am sure that all web designers assuming they know a little Flash have developed a web site intro one time or the other in their careers.
Though Flash movies are still used a lot as ad banners because they have much higher click-thru rates than static gifs, their usage as web site intros has decreased and I am sure you would have noticed it too. Why has that happened? Well, there are several reasons and in this article I will discuss the merits of Flash web site intros – The advantages and disadvantages of using animated Flash movies as web site intros – which hopefully should point out the reasons.
That is a tough question because I would be offending too many web designers with my answer. But what the heck… here goes.
Over the past few years since the time Flash intros became ever so popular, I have come across only 4 intros (out of the hundreds!) that I think served some kind of purpose. The rest were simply routine… there are these images that faded-in and out with text messages going from left to right or top to bottom (you know what I mean!). The question that I always asked myself – what is the purpose of all this animation and interactivity?
By the by, I too have created Flash intros because the client really wanted one – and they gave me the same old arguments – I want my web site to stay at the cutting edge. I want it to have animation. I want the animation to attract the visitor’s attention…. and so on
So am I anti Flash intros?… Yes! But my job is to give you both the advantages and disadvantages. I should, as an experienced web developer (ahem!), give my personal opinion, but I should not force you to accept it – I have to show you both sides of the coin.
“The Google index does include pages that use Macromedia Flash. However, this is a new feature, so our crawlers may still experience problems indexing Flash pages. If you are concerned that Flash content on your pages may be inhibiting Google’s ability to crawl your site, you may want to consider using a text web browser such as Lynx to examine your site. If features such as Flash keep you from seeing all of your site in a text browser, then search engine spiders may have trouble crawling your site.
You may want to consider creating HTML copies of these Flash pages for our crawler. If you do this, please be sure to include a robots.txt file that disallows the Flash pages in order to ensure that these pages are not seen as duplicate content.”
Even if GoogleBot improves, I would still prefer to use plain old text instead of putting it in a Flash file.
A newer trend in using Flash on web sites is putting it in the page headers – either as full flash headers or a part of the masthead. You will examples of such Flash files in several web site templates.
Once you have come to the conclusion that a web site cannot do without a Flash intro… either the client is very insistent or you feel that a Flash intro can accurately delineate the company’s objectives, remember to follow certain ground rules – Things to remember when creating a Flash intro.
Ed Krol's book, "The Whole Internet User's Guide & Catalog", was probably the first popular book about the new medium. It was published in 1992 and selected by the New York Public Library as one of the most significant books of the 20th century. [more...]