Myth #18: Flash is evil
In the earlier years of the internet, many web designers preferred overusing Flash animations, ignoring users with slow internet connections or without Flash player. These early implementations often neglected basic usability principles, too, therefore the whole technology was criticized for being unusable and inaccessible.
Flash technology has improved a lot since: it is now SEO friendly, has rich accessibility features and even supports the use of the browser’s back button. Most users have no problems with Flash itself, suffice to mention the popularity of online video sharing sites.
However, there are still a lot of poorly designed Flash sites and the technology has several limitations, so you should always consider whether it’s the optimal choice for your design.
Facts you might not know about Flash:
- According to Adobe, 99% of desktop computers have Flash installed (other sources estimate Flash penetration around 97%)
- Google can now index almost all Flash content
- A Flash site can meet virtually all web accessibility criteria
- Flash supports navigation with the browser’s back button
- Text content within Flash can be copied and pasted
Further reading on debunking Flash myths:
- Why Flash can’t be evil - Techradar
- Kyle Neath: “The early myths of Flash are not valid any more”
- Flash myths that might never die
All that said, you should still consider the limitations of Flash:
- Flash should only be used when it adds value to your visitors’ experience over the standard browser functionality. For example, Flash is often a good choice for a portfolio sites where animations, 3D effects or audio contribute to the overall experience. An interactive Flash product presentation can also be a very effective sales tool while an e-commerce site totally done in Flash is not recommended at all.
- Although almost every desktop internet user has Flash installed, many also use Flash blockers.
- Most mobile phones, including the iPhone and the iPad, don’t support Flash, your Flash-only content might be inaccessible for a growing number of mobile device users.
- To make your Flash site accessible to everyone, a non-Flash version should be available, too, which will need extra resources to develop.
- Several security experts, such as Symantec and McAfee, recommend users to disable Flash when visiting unknown and untrusted sites because of its vulnerabilities.