I don’t rant here much (unless it’s about the lack of available and inexpensive organic meats). But I’m coming across a problem more and more and it’s hurting businesses and I’m not sure if people are just uninformed or if they just don’t care, but it needs to stop.
People MUST stop building all Flash websites (ahem, photographers).
Just don’t do it.
Slowly back away.
If someone suggests you build an all flash website slap them right in the mouth.
Several years ago flash was all the rage. Websites were finally more dynamic than just static boring HTML. Pictures could float in and out of the screen. Buttons could bounce and dance. There could be very smooth fading transitions on image slideshows. You could build silly videos of stick people dying in horrible ways (remember those?). It was magical and beautiful and lovely and photographers made delightful websites where their pictures floated ever so gracefully from one to the other and then every person who saw their AMAZING websites booked with them (ok, so maybe not, but I think you get my point).
Flash was great then. But now (sorry Adobe) it’s kind of out dated as far as websites go, even archaic. But pre-built website companies are still boasting their AMAZING flash sites.
Like I said, just slowly back away. Cause if you get a flash site (or if you already have one) it’s not out dated because of the style, I mean who doesn’t love a graceful image transition, but it can actually hurt your business. Here’s two HUGE reasons:
1. Apple mobile devices (iPhone & iPad) do not support flash websites.
I know some of you Apple hatters are standing up at your fancy PC computer with your android phone and are shaking your fists in the air and screaming out that you don’t need to cater to those stupid Apple users! The fact of the matter is, you do. Whether you like it or not they (those stupid apple users) are probably your clients. As of November of 2011, according to the marketing research firm NPD, the iPhone4 remains the most popular smartphone in the United States. And while the iPad has recently received some serious competition it’s still remains in the top 4 tablet PCs in the United States. Sadly for us, until Apple and Adobe figure out their differences Apple won’t support flash sites.
In case you don’t have an iPhone, here’s what it looks like when someone visits your fancy flash site:
2. Search engines don’t really like flash sites.
They’re not BFFs, not that they hate each other, they just don’t really talk much. It’s assumed that most people know this, but I think that’s a poor assumption because I keep seeing SO MANY fully flash based websites. Basically there’s not enough dynamic content (text and other delicious items that search engines like) for the search engines (like google, yahoo, bing, etc.) to index your site. What does this mean for you? When a potential client types in “awesome Houston photographer” or “best Mexican restaurant” or “basket weaving specialist” or “insert your primary search terms here” you’re not going to show up in their search results. It’s a sad day and probably a loss of a client.
So what does this mean?
If you currently have an all flash website, or a mostly flash site, people surfing the web on Apple mobile devices and people searching on search engines can’t see you or find you. You’re invisible, which last time I checked is not really the goal of a website. AND if you’re advertising your business on a car magnet (hit hint lady in line in front of me at Starbucks the other day), and you have a flash site, the curious person who wants to check out your work while they wait for a delicious triple shot espresso over ice with a splash of cream gets that lovely “This site requires flash.” screen. You’re wasting your advertising dollars (which makes me cringe), and probably irritating if not loosing a potential client.
If you already have a flash site, what can you do?
If you’ve purchased your flash site from a pre-built website place (like bludomain, or photobiz, or one of the other hundreds of site providers) make sure you’re taking advantage of the html/mobile device option too. Most of the good pre-built site providers offer this as an option. USE it. If you’ve hired someone to build a custom flash site talk to them to see if they can build you an html site to match. There has been talk that there are ways to make your flash site more visible to search engines but it’s still not as effective as traditional search engine optimization, and even if you go this route you still have the problem of being invisible to Apple users (I should clarify, Apple computers CAN see flash, mobile devices like iPhone and iPad cannot).
The other option is to refresh your look and build a new site. WordPress is an incredible website building and management tool and is so much more than blogging (my whole site is created in WordPress). There are tons of WordPress plug-ins that mimic everything that flash can do. If wordpress isn’t for you and you’d like to have a custom coded site there have been amazing advances in coding language that allow for many of the same bells and whistles flash can offer.
I didn’t write this post as a plug for our own website designing services but we do design and build websites here at Diliberto Photo & Design. Most recently we build www.plantmeet.com (a completely WordPress site) and www.NCPA.us (a custom coded site).
Really though, this post is to inform, nay, BEG people to back away from the all flash sites. Don’t hurt your own business.