The FundHome pages can have flash based interactive elements that DON’T force users to wait through long download times.
League of Great ExplorersFlash is a very good tool for creating online games.
Put Theory Into PracticeFlash can be used for developing training and learning tools.
The Fund’s Venture Capital ModelMini-presentations and explanation of advanced concepts often work well with animation tools like flash.
Videos That Mean BusinessFlash video presents a low barrier to entry for most users.


What is it Good For?

March 14, 2008
Think of Google and Yahoo as snobby food critics who only eat the freshest, most popular, and most accessible content.

Not to make a bad pun from the band “War”, but what is Flash good for? Serious developers would quickly respond with absolutely nothing. While we tend to agree with them for the most part, there are reasons to use flash and there are reasons not to use it. It’s important to be careful and select when, and when not, to use it wisely.

If you know your target audience and what the sites primary and secondary goals are, this decision can be made much easier. Here, we provide a list of only some of the good and bad uses of Flash. More points and consideration will come at a later date, so be on the look out for our next Flash article if you find this one to be beneficial.

Videos: Good
Flash is great for videos. It's a universal file type for embedding videos into your webpage.

Search Engines: Bad
Flash will render a website practically inert to search engines, because flash is a file that locks away content to search engine spiders. This means that unless a site is extremely popular (like Nike popular), with millions of page hits, AND people know the site exists, it will become extremely difficult for a user to find the site.

Adobe doesn't use Flash (a product created by Adobe) to build there entire site and structure. It's a garnish used on the home page. Still, to this day, the most powerful and single most important search engine secret is content; open, readable, well written, concise, fresh, current, and updated content.

Think of Google and Yahoo as snobby food critics who only eat only the freshest, most popular, and most accessible content. A food critic doesn't want to wait in line to be seated. If that’s the case they might leave just like a search engine spider would do with a flash site that has locked up content.

Bookmarking Pages: Bad
If the website is built using only Flash, and a viewer finds a page interesting enough to save for later, they won't be able to bookmark a specific page. It will bookmark the home page, but not the lower level pages. How many times have you seen something interesting on a Flash website and went to copy the web address to send to a friend, only to find that the link points directly to the home page? Frustrating, isn’t it? This is like going back to the beginning of a journey, not back to the isolated spot where you had found your item or event of interest.

This causes multiple levels of time consumption on both ends of the spectrum. It causes the “discoverer” of the internal page to describe their trail and retrace their steps. And in turn the recipient of the link will also have to spend time following these directions. All of this, just to get to an internal web page that had already been found successfully.

Many times this causes so much frustration that people choose to ignore the flash site altogether and search for another site to reference.

Cool Graphical Elements: Neutral
Flash can certainly provide elegant additions to any site when housed within a coded structure. Many logos now a day have been converted into flash pieces so they can shine and flicker. Navigational elements and buttons have been using flash elements to spice up their presence. However, these buttons don’t allow for “status preservation”, which is a simple way-finding trick used by many websites including Google.

Also, while special effects and movable objects create a sense of energy, they can often detract the user from the information they intended to find on the site.

Printing: Bad
Have you ever tried to print from a Flash site before? If so, you have probably found yourself praying that you find all the information you need contained within a very small section of that page so you don’t have to piece together a print run by constantly hitting print, scrolling down, hitting print, scrolling down a bit more and hitting print again.

There is no simple way to print from a flash site.

Copy & Paste: Bad
Copy and pasting text from flash is nearly impossible. Until recently only a very few Flash sites have allowed for any copying of text. This causes users to type out their found information, causing them to waste time in their days.

Back Button: Bad
This is one of the biggest pet-peeves about Flash and makes one of the biggest navigational fundamentals of the web useless. Jacob Nielsen states in an article about Flash usability, "The "back" button does not work. If you navigate within a Flash object, the standard backtracking method takes you out of the multimedia object and not, as expected, to the previous state." Once you are in a Flash site and routing through links, there is no way of going back. Literally, if you hit the back button, it will refresh the entire site. Welcome back to the “skip intro” page! Hitting the back button reloads the entire website no matter where you are. Clicking the back button on a Flash based website is like Dorthy clicking her heels 3 times.

Device Independence: Bad
As alternative devices for browsing the web become increasingly popular (ie mobile phones, PDA’s, etc.), your site no longer works on virtually all of these devices. Financial Times reported , "On February 6th, 2007 Google said it had seen 50 times more searches on Apple‘s iPhone than any other mobile handset...If the trend continues and other handset manufacturers follow Apple’s lead in making web access easy, the number of mobile searches will overtake fixed internet searches “within the next several years”. With handset web browser's on the rise and the iPhone leading that race, Flash isn't 100% compatible with these devices meaning lost viewers on the go making quick decisions about your business. Apple has also made a statement that Flash compatibility isn't a big concern.

PC World reported, "Jobs was quick to say that Adobe's Flash player for mobile platforms, the Flash Lite Player, isn't advanced enough for use on the iPhone. He continued to say that "proper" Flash "performs too slow to be useful," on the iPhone, which leads me to believe Flash on the iPhone was at least tested." On March 6th Apple released the beta iPhone Software Development Kit (SDK), and the developer community issued their support.

PC World again reported, "Apple has confirmed that over 100,000 iPhone developers have downloaded the beta SDK". With the new launch of the iPhone SDK, and with the iPhone leading mobile handset Google searches, it doesn't look like Flash is going to be supported by mobile devices any time soon.

Cost: Bad
Developing, maintaining and expanding a Flash site, or even a site with Flash elements incorporated into the design, will drive up the cost of a site exponentially.

Ease of Adding New Content: Bad
The king of the web is content. Adding content and keeping your website fresh is paramount. Flash will severely inhibit a developers ability to add new information to a site. See also, cost!

More to Come:
Since downloading all of our knowledge on this subject at once might completely bore you to death, we are stopping for now. For those who want to learn more, stay tuned for another article on Flash.

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