Are Websites Designed Entirely in Flash Good or Bad?

The short answer leans closer and closer to “bad” as the years move on. But I’ll explain…

From the perspective of a photographer and graphic designer, there are a number things to be said about HTML vs. Flash.

The Pros of Flash: Dynamic aesthetics are under full control by the programmer (with HTML, you’re limited to static pages, for the most part).

The Cons of Flash: Google (or Yahoo, MSN,, etc.) doesn’t recognize anything inside Flash, it simply recognizes the Flash object itself.¬†With HTML pages, Google will recognize all the jpegs and text, and index it that way. If a site is all Flash, Google simply indexes it as one great big Flash object.

In terms of people downloading or otherwise saving a photographer’s jpegs to their own computer, Flash doesn’t completely protect against that. Anyone can take a screenshot of a Flash site, and that screenshot will be just as good as any jpeg that is displayed in HTML.

If you’re relying on ‘direct hits’ (i.e., users specifically type a web address into their address bar), then an all-Flash site can be fine. Given this scenario, Flash sites are still typically harder to regularly update, which makes photography Flash sites harder to manage.

If you’re not relying on direct hits and want search engines to help guide traffic to your site, then HTML sites with some Flash objects are a better fit. The Flash object can be the menu, or some other animation, but for indexing purposes the pictures should ideally be jpegs.

There are some interesting things that can be done with HTML these days. Have a look at the galleries on this site for reference. Those galleries are displayed with jpegs in HTML (again, good for Google), but they are powered by Javascript and CSS, which allows for the background fade and interactivity. And, they’re easier to update than Flash or traditional HTML pages.

So there’s a bit of Flash vs. HTML. If your site is designed in HTML, how then do you protect against jpeg downloads? Learn about watermarks and how to use them to your advantage.

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