Flash or no Flash ?

Discussion in 'Website Creation' started by mart_e, May 13, 2010.

  1. I am in the process of putting together a couple of sites for myself (photography/art and architecture).
    It's been some time since I have dabbled with website design / setup. I am familiar with working with DIV, layers, and some javascripts (for slideshow and switching visibility of DIV layers) and can code to a reasonable level with css etc.. The sites I have done previously look a little dated. A lot of that is to do with font styles and the overall layout which I could address in any new design work.
    I have been looking around at other photo sites for inspiration, and there seems to be a profusion of flash slideshows and galleries with lots of widgets. I personally find a lot of these layouts to be at best confusing, and often guilty of preventing easy access to the main critical pieces of information etc. although a lot of that is probably just me, and there are certainly a lot of great flash sites out there.
    I suppose I tend to be put off by flash, and would therefore prefer to avoid it, and I also enjoy getting into the nuts and bolts of the web construction process and would rather not use flash / website templates etc.
    Are any of these sensible reasons to either avoid Flash - or to really go for it ? would I be limiting myself in not going for a flash site ?
    Thanks,
    Martin
     
  2. Actually, you may be limiting yourself by using Flash.
    My view on the matter is by using Flash you're limiting my ability to browse a site by forcing the presentation in a manner you, as a site developer, would like to see it. That may not be the way that I, as a viewer or potential customer, might want to see it.
    I would much rather browse a site that has a well thought out and designed menu (or in the case of a photography site gallery) structure.
    Generally speaking as soon as I determine a site is flash based I leave never to return. There are exceptions to this - primarily individual presentations can be Flash based within an otherwise non-Flash site - but only if those are clearly identified as Flash presentations.
    Another factor to consider is there are people out there in 'netland that don't have, and will not have, Flash installed for any reason. HTML on the other hand is universal to all web browsers.
     
  3. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Another factor to consider is there are people out there in 'netland that don't have, and will not have, Flash installed for any reason.​
    Flash is installed on 97% of all computers.
     
  4. "Flash is installed on 97% of all computers."
    ...and with over 1 billion computer on the 'net (in 2007) using Flash will shut out over 30 million viewers.
    http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0933606.html
     
  5. If you require Flash or Javascript to navigate your web site, you will shut out people who don't have Flash installed, people who have JavaScript disabled for security or performance reasons, people on mobile web browsers that don't support Flash or JavaScript, and people using screen readers for the blind. You will also prevent search engines from indexing your web site.
     
  6. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Most people aren't marketing to 1 billion internet users. That's a ridiculous way to respond, it's a pretty small number when one looks at the geographies that a photographer markets to. Also, it's safe to assume that a lot of those are very low end users who won't look at rich media anyway.
    Google has been indexing flash content for years.
    Once you eliminate script and flash, you can have a really dead website that nobody cares about. My stats show that people visit twice as many pages now that I have a dynamic site.
     
  7. Jeff's right that it's all about demographics. An important consideration, though: If you rely on Flash, your extra-hip, disposable-income-having iPhone and iPad users won't be able to sit around a bar or coffee shop and look at your web site. Likewise for pretty much anyone poking around on a smart phone of any stripe.

    The answer isn't to get rid of Flash, it's to create more than one way to view your content.
     
  8. "Google has been indexing flash content for years."
    That's interesting about how Google can index (some) flash content, but there are still some limitations.
    "Once you eliminate script and flash, you can have a really dead website that nobody cares about."
    Unless, of course, you use CSS.
     
  9. Thanks, some interesting points.
    I certainly take the point that use of flash and scripts can inhibit functionality on those browsers where it has been disabled / not installed. It's why I try to use scripts only for elements of 'added value' and not essential information. ie on the main page, a slideshow would be placed over a static image - no scripts, then no slideshow, but likewise nothing is lost in terms of overall design / presentation (I suppose you could argue - what's the point of the slideshow then).
    You can use CSS and apDivs to add a degree of depth, but it still doesn't compare to the level of 'flash' that a flash site can offer.
    As more and more people access content via mobile phones, iphones and ipads - the % of flash able browsers will I guess diminish ? - particularly whilst apple's share increases.
    I think my biggest complaint about flash, is that it 'gets in the way' it adds a layer between me and either information or images - both physically (in data downloads) and navigationally. It can however look good, and help to deliver impact in the initial impressions.
    Martin
     
  10. I've struggled with decision and finally came up with a solution (at least for me). I built my site using html then added flashier (excuse the pun) elements with flash slideshows and whatnot. I've asked for a critique of my site a few threads up if you are curius as to what I've done.
    My thinking is that I do not want all my content visible to only a fraction of my clients. That isn't to say that my clients are all iPad toting people, but many people have javascripts disabled or haven't updated in a very long time. My solution, again, was to build an html site with flash added in, but to also offer an alternative to those without flash or javascripts.
    My solution was to build my galleries in a lightroom plugin (Slideshow Pro or previously I've used Simpleviewer), but to also offer a link to a (admitedly less slick) html gallery (also in LR). Anyone can get there. People with flash get to see it how I want them to see it, but people without aren't left with nothing. It took me all of 10 minutes to build 3 additional html galleries and make my pages link to them if there was no flash for the end user. If I were you, I would look at a combo site so that no-one, whether they are only 3% or not, gets left out.
     
  11. Thanks Jen,
    Saw your site - looks very good, much easier to navigate than a lot of other 'flash' sites.
    I have tried setting up a template using a similar approach to your own (via iframe to provide a window on the flash gallery). It seems to offer a reasonable compromise to allow a website structure to implement CSS/DIVs to organise contact and restrict the flash gallerys to particular and specific parts of the site.
    Martin
     
  12. Jen
    Modern browsers are optimized for JavaScript. You can create lightweight fast loading slideshows that are better than flash (no annoying progress meter). And I can prove it to you.
    You can also add SEO friendly filenames and ALT attributes to each image. There is no reason to use Flash for slideshow anymore since we have JQuery and free slideshow scripts.
    Your site looks great replace Flash with JavaScript slideshow and you can have it on any iPhone or iPad.
     
  13. Yes, Niki, I realize that modern browsers are optimized for javascript, but you still can't ignore the fact that some people have actually chosen to disable javascript for a variety of reasons. Taking that into consideration when designing a site is not a bad thing. Why block some of your users from seeing your site when all you have to is design an alternative?
     
  14. I built my site using css and have flash galleries generated in Lightroom. I am interested in looking at the alternatives. I don't like sites done entirely in flash. I have read that HTML5 is supposed to save the day sometime soon. I am not in what way though.
     
  15. In a mere two months iPad sales have surpassed 2 million, with 5.5 million estimated for 2010.
    The handwriting is on the Newton (cough).

    I think Microsoft is as likely to implement HTML5 video codecs as Apple is to support Flash on mobile platforms, so all you professional photographers out there have both my best wishes and my sympathy.
     
  16. I use 2 flash creation programs, SWF & Slide Pro and Porta, and the pages on my FrontPage created website that were created by these flash programs, do not work on an iPad. Does anyone know of replacement programs that do not use flash that could replace these programs?
     

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