Flash websites – Pros and Cons

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Flash based websites have been all the rage for the past few years, and as Macromedia adds more great features into Flash, we can safely predict that there will be a lot more Flash sites on the Internet. Still, Flash based sites are sometimes regarded as bloated and pointless. Where exactly do we draw the line? Here's a list of the good and bad aspects of Flash.

Points in favor:

Interactivity

There is a lot that you can do with Flash's Actionscript. From interactive feedback forms to attractive Flash games, Flash developers have created a plethora of applications. This interactivity results in a lot many repeat visitors.

A standardized website

Flash is cross-browser compatible. Remember debugging CSS code to work perfectly in all browsers; no such effort needed if you use Flash. After you position your site elements in Flash, they will appear as they are meant to provided the user has Flash Player installed.

A moving picture is worth more than a 1000 words

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a moving picture (Flash Animation) is worth more. Flash is a lightweight option for animation because it is vector based. Consequently, Flash animation has smaller file sizes. Compared to this, real movie files are much larger in size because they are raster based.

Points against:

The Flash player

Your website visitors need to download Flash player in order to view the Flash on your site. So by using Flash you limit the number of visitors to your site, because not everyone will be willing to download the Flash player just to view your site. Also, if your visitor does not have the Flash player installed, you will have to redirect them to the download page.

Search Engine Optimization

Most search engines cannot read the Flash content on your website. So if your content was presented in Flash, search engines wouldn't be able to index it. Therefore, you will not be able to rank well in search engines and there will be less traffic heading to your site.

Flash loading time

Users have to wait longer than usual to load Flash content compared to regular text and images. Visitors are not that patient, and they would rather click the back button than wait for your website to load. If your website is extremely slow loading, you risk losing visitors.

To summarize, you should use Flash only when you really need its animation and interactivity. Otherwise, use a mixture of Flash and HTML or simply text and images if that is all you really require to present the information on your website.

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Web Design vs. Web Development

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The article title, Web Design vs. Web Development, may sound a bit odd to you. You may think that they both mean the same thing. It’s not your fault to think so, since the terms web design and web development are often used interchangeably. But they are not the same thing, and this article helps you understand the difference between the two disciplines.

Web Design

You arrive at a website and exclaim, “WOW! That’s a nice looking website.” When you say so, you are referring to the look and feel of the website. Website design relates to the aesthetics, the overall appearance of the website – the graphics, colour scheme and fonts used, and the layout of each web page. The web designer must have an eye for aesthetics. He must carefully choose the colour combination and create graphics that help project the image of the business.

The design is what grabs a visitor’s attention. It persuades her to read further and see what the website is all about. People are not going to stay on a website that looks crappy. Having said that, how a website functions is equally important as how it looks.

Web Development

A website may be visually appealing, but how does it function? Is it cross browser compatible? Does it reach the intended audience? Is it accessible? Does it have an intuitive navigation? Does it use semantic code to ensure that the website is search engine friendly? These are the questions that a web developer needs to address.

Functionality relates to the interactive aspect of a website. This includes Flash animated graphics, database-driven dynamic web pages, form processing, content management systems, and other administration interfaces that allow non-programmers to manage the website data.

Conclusion

There should be equal focus on both web design and web development while building a website. A website is a success if it is:

  • visually appealing
  • cross browser compatible so more people can view it
  • accessible to all, including those who are disabled
  • reaches the intended audience
  • uses semantic code for search engine optimization
  • projects the image of the business it represents