If you browse around the internet these days, you’re bound to come across a website that has an intro page. Usually this page allows you to choose whether you have a high- or low-bandwidth connection. If you select the high-bandwidth option, you invariably get taken to a Flash version of the site, while the low-bandwidth version of the site is static HTML.
When faced with these types of choices, I often forget that one should always pick the low-bandwidth option, even if one is using a high-bandwidth connection. The main reason is that these Flash sites often have annoying background music or annoying animations. From a site design perspective, Flash is best used as a supplementary web technology. A website shouldn’t be designed entirely in Flash. Some core reasons for this are accessibility and search-ability. Google and other spiders cannot crawl a Flash web site as easily. Not to mention the fact that these types of sites always have some crazy navigation scheme and flashy transitions between sections that make it very difficult to navigate around, because it doesn’t fit the typical web mold. Finally, Flash sites are typically absolutely scaled at a specific resolution, which means they don’t look or work great if they’re not at a specific window size. To combat this, they’ll pop open a separate browser window at the specific size they want. Talk about annoying! There is very rarely any need at all to design your site in Flash completely. Many Flash-only site have a stripped down HTML version of the site, hence the intro page where you pick which version you want to see. Since you already have to create an HTML version of the site, why not scrap the flash site and focus your attention on making the HTML site much better?
The trend of completely Flash-based web sites has declined dramatically in the commercial web of late, which is a great development. Instead, sites are using Flash as a way to add a bit of pizzazz to the site in strategic places, or to add a slightly more interactive portion to their site. Judicious use of Flash in this way is good.
The next time someone tells you that you should design your entire web presence in Flash, or have two versions of your site, shoot them.