Got Flash? Perhaps it’s time to make a change.

Adobe Flash has been used by web designers and developers since 1995 to design compelling web sites, navigation, galleries, animations, banner ads and full-fledged applications. The beauty of Flash was that it was a create once, work everywhere technology. Flash gave us confidence that the galleries, navigation, and other elements that we created for our clients would look just as we intended it on every web browser. This was a huge limitation of the early web, where non-Flash-based web page designs and layout could and oftentimes did look wildly different from browser to browser. Unfortunately for Flash, time marched on. The first major blow for Flash came with the advent of the iPhone and the iPad. Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple at the time) made the decision that his mobile devices would not allow Flash to be installed. Not too terribly long after that, Adobe, decided to no longer create a mobile version of the Adobe Flash player, thus effectively spelling the end for Flash on Android devices. This article discusses the options that you should consider immediately if your site uses Adobe Flash.

Doh! My site was designed completely in Adobe Flash

Well, if that’s the case, it’s probably time to re-design your site to one that will work on all current browsers and devices. This does not mean that you have to do completely away with using Adobe Flash. It just means that if you use Flash Elements on your site, for example a photo gallery or for your site’s navigation, you need to have your designer add code that will deliver alternate content automatically to browsers and devices that do no support Adobe Flash. At O’Daniel Designs, we use SWFObject to accomplish this. There are excellent technologies out there to provide compelling galleries, web site navigation and other functionality previously provided by Adobe Flash. Most of them are jQuery based. You can pretty easily find a suitable alternative by performing a Google search that includes jQuery and the name of the functionality that you are trying to replace (for example, jQuery gallery).



Where did my gallery and navigation go?!

More commonly, Adobe Flash was used within a “standard” HTML and graphics web site for specific functionality, such as to provide professional looking navigation, product or services photo galleries, or calendars. What we oftentimes see is web sites that no longer have a navigation bar, or when you go to their photo gallery, nothing is displayed (a very BAD thing when you are showing off your product gallery to a prospective client on your iPad). Again, and this has been around for many years, SWFObject can be used to deliver an alternate version of your Flash content for those browsers/devices.

Is it time to make a change?

If your site has been designed completely in Flash, or your site uses Flash with no alternate functionality for iPhones, iPads and other browsers/devices, it’s time, unless, perhaps you have a Adobe Flash application (sometimes also referred to as a Flex application) that is targeted specifically to a limited audience, and is not used as the primary method for new customers to learn more about your company and what you have to offer. There are lots of jQuery options out there that provide fantastic alternatives.  Two that we use at O’Daniel Designs (when we aren’t creating these from scratch) are:

Likno AllWebMenus – 

We use Likno AllWebMenus to create all of our client’s web site’s common navigation that require the use of drop-down menus. This program makes it quick and easy to create menus that look and work great on all browsers and devices, including iPads, iPhones and Android devices. One of the more advanced uses for AllWebMenus can be found at Move your mouse over About Us, Portfolio, Services, or Contact Us for an example.

Wow Slider –

We use Wow Slider to create galleries and rotating home page animations that look great everywhere. Here are links to a few examples:

Final Thoughts

Adobe Flash is a wonderful technology whose broad-based usage is coming to a close. It is not supported on iPads and iPhones, and will soon not be supported on any mobile device. If you are building a new web site, or if you are planning to re-design your web site, you should work with your designer to incorporate equivalent non-Flash-based functionality, or, if there is no equivalent, to automatically provide alternate content through the use of technologies such as SWFObject. Doing this will make your current and potential new customer’s experience on your web site better, and can make the difference on whether they choose to do business with you, or with a competitor.


Leon O'Daniel

Leon is an award-winning developer with over 20 years experience designing and developing web sites and web applications for companies of all sizes, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to very small, one person companies. He has an extensive background in web application development, technical writing, database design and adult education.

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