Overuse Of Flash

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The little Coffee machine in the office is beginning to suffer under the strain, so I went onto Google and did a quick search for Coffee Machine. One of the sponsored links at the top was for Cafe Express. I duly clicked on it as it seemed seemed to be an Irish site, and got presented with a blank page with a play button in the centre.

I use Flashblock which is a nice plugin which replaces Flash content with a blank box with a play button at the centre. I can then click on the play button if I want to see the Flash. Search engine crawlers lack the Macromedia Flash plugin, giving them their own natural Flashblock. Simple text based browsers like lynx give a good idea of what search engine bots can see. The output for Cafe Express is:

Cafe Express - Cois Chlair, Claregalway, Galway. Coffee machines. Domestic.

[EMBED] About | Machines | E-shop | Contact

Cafe Express - Cois Chlair, Claregalway, Co. Galway. Coffee machines.
Domestic, Commercial, Office. Cafeexpress, Galway, N17, Jura, Saeco,
Stafco, Delonghi www.cafeexpress.ie

Design by ANRI

Content is king, and the bots are getting none. Unfortunately for Cafe Express, this is costing them money. They aren't ranking anywhere near high enough to get organic traffic from Google, so they are having to pay for the sponsored link. From looking at the amount of sponsored links for that search query, getting the link at the top can't be too cheap.

Flash has it's uses, building full websites is not one of them. Games, little interactive apps, and ads are it's forte. I know it's nice eye-candy and all, and looks great to customers when web designers are doing their demos. However if they want to make money from the site, having something that can't be indexed by the major search engines seems to defeat the whole purpose.

1 TrackBack

from Logitech Flash Game on April 8, 2007 4:17 PM

TITLE: URL: http://blog.moybella.net/2007/04/08/logitech-flash-game/ IP: BLOG NAME: Logitech Flash Game DATE: 04/08/2007 04:17:54 PM Read More


Good point, I was using 64-bit Linux for a while which doesn't have a flash player and the amount of sites I couldn't visit was huge!

Now I have a 32 bit box but many sites ask me to upgrade to a newer flash player than is even available for Linux.

I know Windows is king when it comes to OS's but still these sites are missing out on a sizable chunk of the market.

The worst ones are the ones which have a flash intro and the link to the main site is in the flash intro. So even though they have content which is readable by by browser i can't get at it.

And due to the state of broadband in this country no Irish site should have a large flash site as many people are still on dial-up.


If I see a flash intro I usually go no further. The only exception would be sites dedicated to time wasting Flash Games where Flash is their trade :)

Dial-Up seems to on the way out thankfully. Even down at home in Kerry I have broadband thanks to Permanet. There is still too much of the country where Dial-Up is the only option, or even worse, Dial-Up isn't even an option.

I used to love flash when I was developing in college. It does give the developer a lot of freedom. It's very intuitive to design in but the output for the user isn't accessible at all.

There are some strides at SEO'ing flash but that's not going to stop it pissing off users. The only alternative is do a hybrid site which features both flash/html options.


I've done a couple of flash projects, but never whole websites in Flash :)

What are they doing to SEO flash? I don't see Google putting the flash plugin in their bots anytime so I presume it's something like giving flash access to GET variables, and then using a sitemap to point to the various "pages" within the flash app?

There is some js based wrapper available for flash which apparantly makes it more accessible and if you use xml for your flash menu it goes a bit to helping. Nothing major though.


Sounds like a nasty hack :/

I built quite a few all-Flash sites in the past, when it was fashionable back in the day. I still use quite a lot of Flash but generally in degradable hybrid sites. It's a great technology when used correctly. Let's face it though, there will probably always be a lot of all-Flash sites, rightly of wrongly. Companies like 2Advanced and Fantasy Interfaces aren't just going to go away overnight.


I doubt if they'll ever go away, and for good reason, they are pretty eyecandy. Doesn't mean I have to like them though.

I still reckon that sites that use it exclusively are asking for trouble if want to rank in search engines.

I'm not suggesting that you should like them, Niall. What does get my goat though are talentless designers who think that because they code their sites using XHTML/CSS, they can get on some kind of moral high-ground and lambast people like David Martin or Eric Jordan who are infinitely more talented than they are - regardless of the technologies that they use!

Not that I'm accusing you of this, of course. I haven't seen any of your work. But to me, talent speaks more strongly for this industry than the responsible use of technology (which can be adopted at any time)


I have never claimed to be a designer, and probably never will :) I work as a SysAdmin and I am happy in that role.

Pointless use of any technology annoys me.

"Pointless use of any technology annoys me"

A slightly sweeping statement. The same could be said for most technologies. Gmail's 'pointless' use of AJAX could very easily annoy me if I was trying to access it on, say, my mobile device. But then, it's not pointless. It's used for a reason. The vast majority of people won't have any difficulty using the service so the added user experience benefits are worth the trade-off.

I'm not saying that using full-on Flash is a great way to build commercial sites. Far from it. But I think the constant brutish attacks against it are growing a little stale.

Yes, the CafeExpress site is a pile of crud but I suspect if it was built using HTML, it would still be almost as badly executed. However, to assert that companies like Fantasy Interfaces et al are making million upon millions a year out of their 'pointless' use of technology would be a little trite, wouldn't you think?