Flash is taking a back seat
We have been using Flash for many years both in the design of user interfaces for multimedia projects, and for websites either as the basis for the whole site, or for certain elements. While we love the product and the things that can be made with it, Flash is taking a back seat in the C&D offices over the last few years especially in designing for the web. Why? Im going to try to explain. However first, for the non-techie, here is a quick introduction to Flash.
Flash is a design and authoring technology created to produce websites, multimedia products and film. Before Flash, almost all website were created using HTML which you may have heard of. The introduction of Flash by then Macromedia (now Adobe) saw a new kind of website with interactive elements, flashy movement, cartoons and of course (the way its mostly used these days) video. If a site is constantly moving, elements are fading in and out, moving around when you roll over them with your mouse etc. The liklihood is that you are using Flash. YouTube, and most other video sites have for many years now also used Flash as the way that they show their videos.
If I dare use the phrase Web 2.0 we are talking about the web becoming a place where content is user created. A vast majority of what you see on the internet these days is actually created by people within organisations or at home in their bedroom. Wikipedia, YouTube, Facebook, Blogs, Twitter used by businesses and end-users alike, are the most popular of sites and they are all made of content generated by people. Not designers, technical minded people or IT junkies, but infact by the average person with basic to medium levels of technical understanding.
This is the key to why we feel Flash (although incredibly useful in many circumstances) is becoming less important in delivering that all important content and why we are using it less and less in the development contracts we are working on.
It will never be taken away from Flash that it can be a designers dream, we have created a number of applications and presentations that would only be possible with Flash and there is at this time no other technology capable of delivering these projects. But online, we believe there is generally an alternative that will provide content providers the ability to vastly speed up, functionalise and create online works without the need for the knowledge, or cost involved in the complex software that is Flash.
There are a number of key points then in why we are using Flash less and less. Here is a summary of those Ive mentioned, and other I havent:
- One point of delivery the designer
- Less scalable and adaptable than HTML solutions
- Need for a browser plugin
- Accessibility hard to make accessible to those with disabilities
- Cost of development Simple sites take a lot longer and generally require more specialised skills than HTML/PHP sites
- Unsupported on a number of platforms (iPhone for example)
- Future of technology development in the hands of one company Adobe
- No Flash Standards or independent monitoring/development
We will continue to use Flash, especially for offline and certain multimedia content, and this post is by no means meant to be a critism of the technology, but to give an understanding of one choice were making here. We would love to hear your views, so feel free to contact us or leave a comment below.