Is Flash the Right Choice?

Is Flash the Right Choice

Ok, you’ve started looking at sites that you think are real neat and cool. You’re probably thinking “Wow, look at those cool effects on that site. I think I want those!”.  Before you get too enamored with the bright, sparkly stuff let’s take a look at the pros and cons.

Sure it was a neat effect.  That spinning globe was just really killer!  (lol).  The real question is, did you remember the name of that nifty site or the product/services they were offering?

Did you learn anything from the site’s content or did you just watch that flashy stuff and then click out of the site? Things aren’t always as they seem and what looks ‘flashy’ and ‘cool’ isn’t always what keeps the customers happy and coming back to your site.

Content Delay Disorder…

If you watch television, you’ve probably experienced delays to receiving the actual content you wanted (in the form of commercials). They are necessary for that medium but annoying, no less. TiVo is taking care of a lot of that and if you own one, you probably skip most commercials.

How about those nasty pop-up windows that open up when you are trying to view the web page you are visiting. Aren’t they annoying?

Have you ever been enjoying a good radio talk show and then the station breaks for commercials. It’s just another form of “content delay”.

You’ll excuse me for beating around the bush on this point, but being delayed in most people’s eyes is a bad thing.

On the net, if I click a search engine result and it’s taking too long to display, I click the “back” button and I’m onto another site that will load faster. It’s too easy to visit another site that will load fast and give you the info you need.

If you want to keep ’em coming back for more, there are two things your site has to do:

1. Load Quickly

First, you need to have your site load quickly. That seems rather obvious enough, right? Well, just surf the web and you will see (or won’t wait around to see, in most cases!) sites that take forever to load.

In this day and age people like things NOW and waiting is a big no-no. Speed of service is very important. This is a major factor why the fast food industry has done so well. You’d think that fast food burgers must be the best tasting burgers in the world, with the way we eat them up! Hardly! Any restaurant can deliver a real burger that puts to shame the average fast food burger.  Then why do we buy? In a nutshell, fast service. You’re in and out and on your way. You may not have the best burger but you were willing to trade quality for speed. Interesting, eh? It goes to show you how much people value their time.

As a general rule you want your site to load within 5 seconds. Why? Well, if not, you start losing customers at a rate of about 10% for each additional second of load time — sheesh… impatient buggers we are!

2. Supply Your Visitor with Helpful Content

The second thing to keep in mind is that people want information from your site. Unless your site is purely an entertainment site your visitors want to learn something valuable from visiting your site. That’s why they are there.

They want to learn what your services or products are, they want to learn about your industry, they want to learn how to improve their situation and how your services might help them. So, excellent CONTENT is the thing that gets people coming back for more! And that’s how you turn a “visitor” into a “client”.

Bottom Line on Flash

To a programmer or computer geek we love those snazzy, movie-like intros to web sites! They are typically written using a technology called “Flash”. Flash enables really cool animation and other neat effects. However, the trade-off is the time it takes for all this stuff to download to your machine and run. Depending on how much is used, this wait time can be very substantial. There are applications where only Flash Animation will do but for the majority of web sites, particularly small businesses offering a product or service, Flash Animation is unnecessary and in some cases a detriment because of the long load time.

Today there is a technology called HTML 5 & CSS which allows you some of the motion graphics effects without the heavy load times but these technologies are still emerging and  the really advanced effects are not fully supported in all browsers yet.  However, we are seeing a rapid shift to these technologies since Apple dropped support for Flash in its IOS devices.  I believe as fiber Internet service is rolled out to home users, we will see a big move towards very interactive websites, with lots of rich media, video and quite possibly Flash or another rich technology which will replace it.

In the meantime, the bottom line is that when you are building a web site you have to constantly keep your ‘audience’ in mind. Your site’s purpose is to serve the needs of your existing clients and potential new clients. These needs can be summed up into “getting access to the information, the product or service as quickly and efficiently as possible.