Animations play a great part in websites and mobile apps. They are engaging and help users interact with the respective digital property or watch time-lapse series of images. All the animations we used to see on most websites and apps until recently were made with Adobe Flash.
The launching of the Adobe Flash software was more or less the biggest thing in web design and animated graphics since small-sized digitized images were made possible by the JPEG compression technique. At a certain point, everyone wanted a 100% Flash website. Those were times when it mattered less how well a site works and how useful its content is to users, if it had lots and lots of animations, transitions, and other visual effects.
The Fall from Grace for Flash
However, just like any other great thing, something better appeared, and it is called HTML5. But this was not the reason why flash stopped being the wonder kid of web and app design. Although its front end results looked engaging, things were far from perfect in the back end.
Flash files are large and cumbersome, adding up too much to the final size of a website or app folder. It is also difficult to load on slower internet connections or older computers with undersized CPU. To make matters worse, Flash updates are complex and difficult to be made. Whereas HTML-based websites can be updated from a content management system (CMS), for Flash it is necessary to hire a programmer every time a new update needs to be applied.
So, is it time to put Flash in its proper place in web design history and move forward? Here are some considerations worth retaining in making this decision:
1. Flash Is Not SEO Friendly
Search engine spiders cannot index contents of flash websites for the simple fact that it is not text per se, but text embedded as graphics. This means that your organization could invest thousands of dollars in SEO strategies for a website which simply cannot be indexed.
2. Browsers and Hardware Manufacturers Have Said Goodbye to Flash Already
By default, all browsers block Flash. Users have to take several steps in order to activate Flash, and this under warning that they are exposing their computers to risks. Provided that they would take the time to activate Flash, for most people this warning works as a final deterrent.
On the other hand Apple is blocking Flash on its tablets and Microsoft has started doing the same since Windows 8, an operating system developed with the new touchscreen capabilities of modern laptops and notebooks in mind. There is one simple reason for this, besides the security risks (we will deal with them next): in order to interact with Flash animations or files, the user needs to scroll or place the mouse over it. This is very difficult to replicate by tapping with the finger on the screen.
3. Continuous Flaws and Vulnerabilities
Flash elements have been proven several times to be vulnerable to malicious software, which can be embedded in an animation and infect unsuspecting users’ computers. Several patches and updates have been launched by Adobe since last year, when the first major vulnerability has been exposed; however these patches have not fixed the problem in a satisfactory manner.
4. Compatibility Issues
Not all mobile devices are compatible with Flash. In fact, it is simpler to list the devices compatible with it, than those not compatible. This means that if your content is in Flash, it can be impossible to be viewed by many potential users.
5. Even Adobe Is Moving Away from Flash
As a final blow to an already beleaguered Flash technology, its own creator is quietly putting it in the past. The new version for the software used to create Flash files is no longer called Adobe Flash Professional CC, but Animate CC.
Finally, if you were wondering whether all sorts of animations will disappear from websites and apps when all developers stop using Flash, here’s the good news: in HTML5 you can create great looking, small-sized animated files which are safe, SEO friendly and compatible with all kinds of devices.