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HTML 5 or Flash? Form vs function

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So recently Daniel wrote about Mobile Sites vs Apps in a question of how to appeal to the largest user base. It got me thinking, what about the decision between choosing a site developed in Adobe Flash vs HTML 5?

 

HTML 5 versus Adobe Flash

 

We often have clients who come to us asking for a smooth, stylish and beautifully sculpted website to promote their brand. When we ask for a couple of example websites to give us inspiration, we’re often provided with link to a beautiful site developed entirely in Adobe Flash. As developers, it can be difficult to explain the pros and cons of a site developed in Adobe Flash against one developed using HTML and CSS.

 

I think that the first and most important factor to enter into the decision is the purpose of the site. Adobe Flash is definitely more suited to business sectors where style and design is an important part of the brand. A beautiful layout and a eye-catching design can push sales, improve brand awareness and enhance the user experience for jewellery websites, fashion websites and music and film websites. For more corporate entities, functionality comes before form in importance. An estate agent website earns more trade by being easy to use, appearing high on search results, and being accessible from all mobile devices. Simply, the choice becomes a question of form or function.

 

On Aprilia Parts Buyer, you can see Flash utilised to enhance the user experience

 

Despite the growing selection of animation effects available to HTML 5 sites with canvas elements, it’s still not possible to achieve the same quality of effects and animation that is easy to achieve in Adobe Flash, such as the Bike Flow on the Aprilia Parts Buyer website. Online games and web based media streaming services still heavily rely on the functionality built into Adobe Flash. However, it’s important to notice that Adobe Flash websites have some considerable drawbacks. An Adobe flash site requires the user to have the Flash Player, and if they don’t have it or cannot install it, your site is inaccessible to them. iPhones, Windows phones and many Blackberry phones do not come with Flash installed, so a large percentage of the mobile userbase is immediately alienated from your website. If you have a mobile site or app as well as a Flash site, you can ensure that your user base can view your brand and product on any medium, while still maintaining a beautiful stylish website.

 

The Flash object icon on an iPhone

iPhone users know this means “You can’t see Flash media”

 

I think it’s down to personal preference, you can always have a mixed website with sections, galleries and banners utilising Flash, so long as the rest of the site is usable and functional for users without Flash. I personally love the polish and finishing touches you can add to a website using Flash, and when applied to a jewellery or automotive site, it can make all the difference to your sales.

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