Before you decide on a flash based website.

At the outset I explain that my intention is not to discourage the flash based websites. On the contrary, the flash is certainly worth attention. I say more, It's the basis of my every day work. However, not all gold that shines and there are a few things to keep in mind when deciding on a Flash based website.

General characteristics of flash sites I described in the article Flash or html, but you might as well summed it up in one sentence: The flash based website is primarily to be impressive, everything else is on the second or third plan. Here are 5 important things to remember when deciding on using Flash.

Availability

To properly display the flash you need a current flash player installed. At this time, approximately 95% of internet users have installed flash player. I'm more than certain that some of clients visiting your website, will be in that remaining 5%. Users of iPad, iPhone, smartphone, and many other mobile devices, probably will not watch your website either.

And there remains the question of size. Flash based websites by nature are larger therefore they take longer to load. The owners of the weakest bandwidth, or users who use smartphones with flash player installed, may not want to wait for website to load. Not to mention paying for the extra transfer. So if we want to reach the maximum number of customers we need to ensure alternative versions of flah based website. And it usually involves additional cost.

Page size

Size of flash based website deserves a special mention. This is probably the weakest point for both the contractor and client. The closer to the completion, size of flash website increases. It is composed of all the graphics, animations and all the multimedia extras. At the end it needs to be optimized. Optimization involves among other things, reducing the file size at the expense of graphics quality. To a certain point, you can optimize with impunity, to say more it also increases the performance. But that, as already mentioned, only to a certain point, than begins sliding down the slippery slope. At the end, it loads quickly but the quality leaves much to be desired, and that is certainly not a good business card. Therefore, let us note that the more fireworks on website the longer it takes to load.

Page rank in search engines.

Flash based websites does not belong to the the easiest for search engine optimisation, most of the time it takes hard work to achieve the same effect as in the case of the html based website. And it certainly has an impact on the costs Flash sites.

Flash and social networks.

Virtually all of what we find in the internet can be shared. In the older days it usually was a link to it sent via email, or through preferred IM. Today, more and more often we can simply hit "I like it" button. Increasingly, companies have their own profiles on social networking sites such as Facebook. And this is the moment when it starts to be tricky. Facebook offers a number of plugins to be placed on personal websites. From the simplest button "I like it" to "like box" which provides a recent blog entries on the blackboard, and the list of facebook fans with pictures. None of these plugins support flash websites. Again, instaling plugin on flash based website is not impossible, but definitely not the easiest of tasks. Let us remember that if we are planning to build a relationship with the user using social networking sites.

Edditing

While html based website can be edited with a basic knowledge of html language. Flash websites, not plugged into a content management system, are hard to edit without proper knowledge. Without CMS, flash website require source files editing and no self-respecting web developer will give them up for free. If you want to have the right to the source files, you need to take care of it right at the begining. Then their cost probably will be lower, generally around 20% of the website value, while, for example, after a year it may reach 200 - 300% of the website value. That is because the transmission of the source files at a later date, usually means a change of agency serving the client. And nobody wants to give his "now-how" in the hands of competition. However giving up the source files is not synonymous with the transfer of licenses for fonts, images, or classes used in development. That needs to be taken care separately.

I design flash websites every day, therefore it may seem that this type of article is not in my interest, but the satisfaction of my clients is. Don't turn rule out flash based website, but treat them as an expanded version rather than the standard.