- It Gets in Your Customer’s Way
Your customers come to your website with a problem in need of solving. They are looking for information, contact details, a price quote, description of services, and so on. But if they have to sit and wait for a 4-minute flash presentation to load and run, then you are simply getting in their way. Animation for animation’s sake helps no-one.
2. Google Warns Users to Avoid Your Website
That’s right – if you use Flash on your site, Google will warn users even before they click on your link! In 2014, Google rapidly expanded this “early warning system” by rolling it out in many different languages across the globe, so now anyone searching for your website anywhere in the world will receive a warning like the one below, but of course written in Chinese or Farsi or Russian depending on location. Wow, Google really doesn’t like Flash, does it? Since the world’s largest search engine has gone to so much trouble to warn people about it, why use it at all? The warning below would deter most customers from trying to enter your site.
- It Turns Active Leads into Annoyed Ones
One of the best features of the World Wide Web is that users can go anywhere they want in search of information. Users these days are used to skipping sideways and diagonally across the internet to find what they need. In other words, they have grown accustomed to interacting with the information on their screen. A flash presentation forces them to revert into passive consumers of information, like watching a TV screen.
These days, impatient consumers use Tivo to record their favorite TV programs and zip past all the ads. Flash, in some ways, is no different from the TV commercials we used to not be able to avoid. If you’re still using Flash, don’t be surprised if your customers zip past you too.
- Flash Breaks the Functionality Rules of the Web
It is very difficult to navigate within a flash-driven website because flash breaks many of the rules that we associate with web functionality. These are the most common problems for your customers:
- You can’t change the size of the font using the “Make text bigger/smaller” button because that button doesn’t work in Flash. This means that your customers will be forced to read the text in whatever tiny font your flash designer has likely chosen (because designers have very good eyes, they assume everyone else does too).
- The “Back” arrow doesn’t work with a Flash object – if a customer clicks on it, it will bring them right out of the multimedia feature rather than to the last page they viewed. As you can imagine, this is enormously frustrating for customers, and they might just give up on your site altogether.
- Flash objects can sometimes literally ‘flash’ colors and light at headache-inducing levels, but this is a particularly health-harming problem for users with epilepsy.
- Link colors don’t work with Flash – this means that your customer can’t track which pages they have already visited and which they have yet to visit, as is the norm in html. This can make navigation very confusing.
- Generally, it is very difficult to use the search function to find something on a Flash-supported page. This further interferes with your customer’s desire to find information.
- Flash Can Make Your Site Content Invisible to Search Engines
Here’s the thing: most data on the web is configured around the coding language known as html, which is short for hypertext markup language.The markup part of the title refers to the tags wrapped around titles, headings, paragraphs, and links in order to give them structural weight and allow search engines to assign a value to each element of the text.
Search engines are configured to read html fluently, as if it were their mother tongue. Flash, on the other hand, is not only a foreign language but is coded in a completely different alphabet.
When your customer inputs a keyword query into the Google search bar, here’s what happens – the search engine then scans all the data available on the Internet, processes it, and retrieves the best match to the customer’s original query.
But graphic formats such as Flash are more difficult for search engines to find data in, because the data is not coded in the html language the search engine recognizes. This means that important textural information gets buried deep within the Flash site and therefore your site content is poorly ranked in SERPs.
Although Google has improved its Flash search engine crawling tools to extract text, context, and links from a Flash-driven site, the process just means that it is slightly easier for sites already 100% immersed in Flash to get their content ranked. It does not mean that the problem has been fixed and we should all start designing our sites in Flash. In other words, don’t deliberately throw an invisibility blanket over your site content if you don’t have to.
- Flash Gets in the Way of Accurate Web Analytics
Accurate web analytics are essential to the planning and execution of key business decisions, including marketing strategy and product roll-out. If you want to get to the bottom of what makes your customers tick, what they value, what plays into their purchase decisions, and their decision-making behavior, then it is vital that you know certain things about your user.
For example, what site did they visit yours from? What image files, objects, or information did they download or right-click to save while they were on your site? Which url pages did they copy to share and forward to friends? How long did they stay on your site, and what point did they leave? This information is absolutely vital from the perspective of understanding the values important to a user when making a purchase decision.
Aside from limiting your site users’ ability to link to or share your URLs, you lose the basic power of web analytics, which tells you which parts of the site and content they value most by visiting, linking to, sharing links, or “liking” an URL on social media. This in turn means you have less data on the needs, wants, and interests of your site user. This is bad news for any business that values web analytics (and that should be every business).
- No Consistency in Cross-Platform Support
If you care about responsive web design – and you should, since 80% of consumers shop online these days, meaning that many of them will encounter your website for the first time on their iPhone – then you should know that most Flash sites cannot be navigated on mobile devices. Most of your potential customers visiting your website for the first time through a mobile device will simply give up when they encounter Flash. That’s bad news for you and good news for your competitors.
Also, Flash runs counter to the openness and standardization we’ve grown accustomed to with the web – in other words, we expect a website to work the same across different browsers and on different computers. This is not true for Flash. Although most of us have Flash plug-ins installed, we don’t necessarily have the right version, or the latest updates. This means that not all Flash-driven websites will open for us – very frustrating indeed.
Below is an example of the type of screen your customer will see if he doesn’t have the right plug-in or software update needed to view your Flash-enabled site. Is this what you want him to see? No, we didn’t think so!
- Savvy Customers Know How to Disable Flash
If a customer hates the way Flash makes a site slow to load or gets in his way to find the information he wants, a quick Google search will show him how to disabled Flash from his browser (using a program or app such as FlashBlock, featured below), and therefore make your website literally a blank page. Web users are clever at disabling features that don’t suit them. So make sure you don’t put a feature like Flash in their path.
Image source: http://flashblock.mozdev.org
- Flash Distracts from Core Business Values
Perhaps the most damaging thing about using Flash is that it tends to distract you from core business values. Most businesses (rightly) place a high priority on upgrading, building, adding to, and refreshing content on their site so as to attract more traffic and convert more leads.
But every time a business wants to enhance the core content on their Flash-enabled site, they also have to adapt the Flash features. That takes a lot of time and money, because most companies rely on an external Flash expert to run and maintain the feature for them. In turn, this causes companies to think twice about adding or changing content in real-time. And if a company doesn’t keep its core content fresh and relevant to customers, well….they may go elsewhere.
In other words, what we are trying to say with this list is this:
You wouldn’t choose to cripple your business website and drive customers away on purpose, so why choose a feature like Flash that risks doing just that? A few cool animations are not worth the total cost to your business.