Reasons You Should Stop Using Flash

With the exception of the all too tired iOS vs. Android fanboy arguments, no software platform has divided designers and developers more than  Adobe Flash. With the recent advances in web technologies over the last five years, Flash has become the proverbial 800 pound gorilla in the room. Developers have attempted to transition to more open, cross-platform friendly solutions for their clients – and yet, Flash is still with us, albeit desperately grasping for a continually shrinking market share.

adobe flash

Reasons to Avoid Using Flash

There are many reasons you should choose to transition to a different platform – all of which will have different benefits for your website. We’ve broken down the top four reasons to switch in this handy post:

1. Flash is not SEO friendly

Index-able content, an intelligent URL structure, and rich title and meta descriptions will go a long way in bringing organic search traffic to your site. Unfortunately, with Flash, you lose all of these elements, leaving you to more time-intensive and expensive methods of drawing online traffic to your business.

Imagine this: you want to scan your phone book for a few numbers, and perhaps even look through the yellow pages to find a local business. Problem is, the phone book was sealed shut when it arrived to your house. How are you going to get any information out of it – let alone connect with the businesses that paid good money for those listings. In this same way, Flash serves your content in  a way that seals off search engines from your data. Instead of serving your website in the “traditional” sense, through a series of indexable files that can be optimized for search engines, it gives all of your content to the browser in one pile of code that isn’t indexable by most search engines. How will search engines help potential customers reach you and your business, if those search engines can’t even crawl your content?

2. Flash doesn’t like to update your content

Speaking of your content, should it really be a luxury to have the ability to easily update it? Content Management Systems have long been the most effective means of managing your web presence, from copy, to media, to navigation and your SEO tactics. Once a Flash based site is deployed, many of these benefits go out the window.

Not only can you not effectively manage your link structure, but even editing simple sentences require the developer to re-open your file(s), make the edits, re-compile and then re-deploy the package to your server. Not only is this time intensive, but it’s slow and can be extremely costly for even the simplest of edits, compared to the time and costs needed to edit your content with a CMS.

3. Flash hates mobile devices

It’s no secret that mobile browsing has been on the rise for years – Monetate’s 2013 Q1 analysis of web traffic between platforms shows a whopping 85% growth – from 11.37% in Q1 of 2012 to 21.02% in Q1 of 2013 alone. Client projects need to be future-proof in today’s world, and Flash-based features just don’t have a place in that trajectory. The two main dogs in the mobile-browser fight, Apple iOS and Google Android, have both either dropped support, and in Apple’s case, flat-out refused to support the platform in the first place. What was once a key difference between the two platforms (and core argument of aforementioned fanboy brawls) has ceded to reason. Flash based content just isn’t optimized for mobile browsers, and usually too bulky to deliver efficiently.

Not only does flash not work on most (read: up-to-date) mobile devices, but it’s nothing short of a liability on those platforms on which it does render.  Who could forget the platform’s disastrous Android debut at Flashcamp Seattle in 2010, when it crashed twice without even successfully loading a page? Rendering errors, slow load times, and nagging bugs plagued the platform from the start, effectively sealing it’s fate on the mobile front.

4. Flash isn’t the platform of the future

When it comes down to it, Flash is capable of some incredible things. Unfortunately, with the platform’s market share shrinking steadily, developers need to come up with a more future-proof solution. If only we had access to a platform that could serve video, web applications, and even custom graphical interfaces, without all of the drawbacks?

Oh wait, we already have a platform that can accomplish most of that? And, it’s even cross-browser friendly, based on open sources, and easy for developers with HTML/CSS skills to pick up? Yes! HTML5 and CSS3, the W3C’s latest and greatest achievements, are extremely powerful platforms from which developers can build out the content-rich web experiences Flash has spoiled us with, all while adhering to standards that are accessible to modern browsers – desktop OR mobile.

Granted, HTML5 development is still in it’s infancy, but given it’s incredible power and flexibility, it provides a truly superior approach when compared with the alternatives. After all, if HTML5 can actually render Quake II in your internet browser, surely it’s then powerful enough to power your website?

  • flash_dev

    20 years is a really *long* infancy for html

    I think we can agree that there are devs out there that will create horrible pieces of script/code regardless if its in Html5/JS/etc or in Flash/Fex.

    2. Flash doesn’t like to update your content

    Not true

    Flash can read in xml files, text files and other assets images/videos etc.

    Data should not be hard coded into your code regardless of platform.

    3. Flash hates mobile devices

    Nope, its Steve Jobs that hated flash and made sure that flash never made it to his iPhones/iPads. Flash posed a serious threat to his ability to make money off of apps that he controls through his store. Solutions to perceived limitations of flash on mobile could have been found. However money talks.

    Also, you can’t generalize an unfortunate debut and say that the product is bad. Yes, it was bad for that platform at that time, however I’m sure that the wrinkles could have been ironed out.

    Unfortunately I have to say that html5/js/css is a great step backwards. Since the 1990′s we still can’t get all browser makers to set aside their differences and follow a standard.

    Try and get a simple video to play and you have to supply multiple formats.

    Try to write a simple page and you have to verify that it works well on an unknown number of browsers.

    Then you have to keep checking as browser updates can break your page.

    What you end up with is a ridiculous number of checking for browser versions and fallbacks and headbanging.