In the earlier years of the internet, many web designers preferred overusing Flash animations, ignoring users with slow internet connections or without Flash player. These early implementations often neglected basic usability principles, too, therefore the whole technology was criticized for being unusable and inaccessible.
Flash technology later improved a lot: it became SEO friendly, got rich accessibility features and even supported the use of the browser’s back button. Most users used to have no problems with Flash itself, suffice to mention the popularity of online video sharing sites that used to only provide a Flash version of the video players. Flash was also responsible for the internet’s most creative era.
However, with the growing popularity of smart phones and tablets (most of which don’t support this technology at all), Flash is no longer an option for any user-friendly website or app.
Fun facts about Flash:
- According to Adobe, there are 1 billion desktop computers with Flash installed
- Google can index almost all Flash content since 2008
- A Flash site can meet virtually all web accessibility criteria
- Flash supports navigation with the browser’s back button
- Text content within Flash can be copied and pasted
Even when it was widely used, Flash had its limitations:
- Flash used to be a good choice when it added value to the visitors’ experience over the standard browser functionality. For example, Flash was often a good choice for a portfolio sites where animations, 3D effects or audio contributed to the overall experience. An interactive Flash product presentation could also be a very effective sales tool while an e-commerce site totally done in Flash was not recommended at all.
- To make your Flash site accessible to everyone, a non-Flash version was also required, too, which will need extra resources to develop.
- Several security experts, such as Symantec and McAfee, recommended users to disable Flash when visiting unknown and untrusted sites because of its vulnerabilities.
- Although almost every desktop internet user has Flash installed, many also use Flash blockers.