The most important question to ask when deciding on using flash for designing websites is "Why do I need flash?". Flash can be a very valuable tool for your website. But, it should only be used when needed.
Keep in mind one thing: when a potential buyer visits your website, he has passed the awareness stage of the buying cycle, and is either into the research, evaluation or demo stages. Websites that are too original and flashy are an impediment to transmit the proper message effectively and often times it turns out only as noise. You may need flash to capture attention and build awareness; typically not the main reason why you have built a website. The awareness is built outside the site, through online marketing, or in other types of advertisement, or through thought leadership in professional gatherings. Once those buyers come to your site, they are ready to learn, and your site must be prepared to do so.
Let's go over some of the cons of using flash for designing websites.
First, they are not search engine friendly. Just like browsers, search engines view Flash sites as one page. They also do not recognize the text within the images because they are not written standard HTML coding. This not only means that the search engines cannot index all of the site's pages, it can't even index the information located on the home page.
Because flash applications and sites can be very large in bandwidth, they can also be slow for the user to download, especially since in most cases the entire app usually has to buffer before use.
The back button does not work. Browsers view an entire Flash site as one page. So, when users press the back button, they are usually sent back to the page on the site they were viewing before they entered the flash site.
Some users simply do not like Flash sites, pages or applications. They find them to be an annoying nuisance and will leave the site as soon as they realize there is Flash involved. That's why it is very important to make sure that you are only using Flash when it is absolutely needed.
When to use Flash?
There are some things that can only be done effectively by using Flash.
Create certain interactive animations - Flash is an animation tool because it makes it easy to create animations, it's easier to load them and view them when they are created in flash, however limit Flash to interactive animations where certain interactivity will help the user understand the message you want to transmit. If the animation is completely static you should opt for a video format that you could promote more effectively through social media.
Image replacement for special fonts is used when the page calls for special fonts that the viewer's browser may not recognize. The fonts are embedded in the flash image instead.
Although there may appear to be more cons than pros to using Flash, the ultimate decision should be based on your website and messaging needs. Simply put, before you make the final decision, ask yourself these questions:
1. What message do I want to transmit?
2. Do I really need flash?
3. Why do I need flash?
4. What pages or cross section of my site needs flash?