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Why is Flash Bad for User Experience?

Even though it’s 2013 now, I still come across quite a lot of Flash-based websites. Flash may be flexible when it comes to moving around objects and making lots of “cool” bells and whistles, but it only makes users more annoyed and costs more money to businesses.

No wonder why Jacob Nielsen said: “About 99% of the time, the presence of Flash on a website constitutes a usability disease.” He explains that Flash “tends to degrade websites for three reasons: it encourages design abuse, it breaks with the Web’s fundamental interaction principles, and it distracts attention from the site’s core value.”

Not to say that Flash is bad and not to be used at all. It may have a good application for online games, for example, or used sparingly for certain websites.

However, it’s not a good idea to use Flash in general for the following reasons:

  • Slow load time: Many users find it annoying to wait until Flash has been fully loaded before viewing a website.
  • Plugin required: Many users have to install or constantly update a plugin in order to be able to view Flash-based sites.
  • Not compatible with all devices: As more people are using mobile devices, they are frustrated with Flash-based sites, especially on Apple mobile devices that do not support Flash. TechCrunch states that iOS had a 67% browser share in November 2012 – which is a significant market to be ignored.
  • Bad for accessibility and SEO: While there are ways to make Flash sites more accessible, they are not as accessible and easy to use as HTML-only websites and are also not friendly to search engines.
  • Expensive to maintain: Since Flash is proprietary, it costs more money and time to maintain Flash-based sites than HTML-only websites that can be created and updated in any program and on any platform or even online if using a CMS (content management system) such as WordPress. Using Flash is like using Photoshop – you can edit only the original file and only in an program it was created in.

That said, I would advise businesses to not to use Flash for most of their websites in order to have more happy users.

Published in Technology

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