Flashy sites: whether or not to use Flash

Using Flash to create web sites can offer a large multimedia advantage over plain HTML or a basic DHTML web site. I have used Flash mainly for presentation-style sites and introductions.

Many sites deliver all multimedia and text content through Flash. In my experience, web design is more about using the right tool for the job, rather than focusing on the latest and greatest tools.

For instance, serving all content through a series of Flash files can impede text searching and search engine optimization. There are, however, ways to work around these points, but it is better practice to evaluate when and where to use Flash, DHTML, dynamic content, and static HTML.

When and where to use any particular tool for the web depends largely on the type of site, the audience, the bandwidth and technology available to the audience, and relevance to the site materials themselves.

On a site that delivers medical information, it would not make sense to serve all of the articles through flash. It would also not make much sense to deliver content using document.write statements in Javascript, either. Using dynamic or static HTML files ensures the maximum browser compatibility and reduced bandwidth requirements.

For a site that focuses on entertainment, such as a movie promotion or a band’s web site, it would make sense to deliver the multimedia elements (introduction, video, fancy menus, etc.) using Flash. Preferably, this would be combined with DHTML while also providing alternate content so that the site will still be usable in browsers that are not Flash or DHTML enabled.

Every site must be created with a careful consideration for what content should be delivered using a particular method. While sites with relatively little text content work well when designed completely in Flash, text content intensive sites work better when a combination of multimedia and text are used.

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