To Flash, or Not to Flash

When considering whether or not to incorporate Flash into your website, you must also consider the target market you are trying to reach.

For instance, a website which serves as a depository for articles and information catering to lawyers would probably not be a good candidate for a Flash "makeover". However, if you are a rock band, you may want to consider it.

Those are two very opposite ends of the spectrum, but exemplify how you should consider your audience.

In our business, we always suggest "hybrid" Flash sites over full Flash sites when we are not dealing with an entertainment industry client. By using limited and specific Flash, it can take your website from "average" to fantastic.

Corporate, retail, industrial, informational and many other types of websites can actually benefit from a little bit of Flash if it is created professionally and used properly (especially in combination with "static" design).

Flash is quite a complex program, and with every version that is released, there is more to learn. When you do decide to incorporate Flash into your site, make sure your designer is skilled with the program. Using older versions of Flash, not optimizing graphics/audio/video and poorly written actionscript (the language of Flash) can be a detriment.

Current statistics show that over 90% of internet users have the ability to view Flash. It could benefit your online presence and give your site a higher-end look.

Like the web itself, Flash is a technology that is constantly evolving and there are designers that are pushing the envelop to create amazing, interactive user experiences with it.

And remember Flash isn't just for fading in and out photos or moving text around. Below are just a few of the other ways to use Flash on your website:

1. Flash "tour" - would your business benefit from an interactive "tour" of your facilities? Or a "tour" of how your product works?

2. Audio player - you can stream audio and offer user controls such as stop, fast forward, and track selection.

3. Games - Flash can be used to program interactive and educational games.

So consider your audience, and choose a designer/company with a high level of Flash experience and your website is sure to benefit.

Sherry Holub received her degren in design from UCLA in 1995. She is now the Lead Designer and Manger at Southern California firm, JV Media Design. http://www.jvmediadesign.com

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