Problem #1 - Images
The whole reason why
Flash was developed was to be able to use vector graphics on web pages.
Vector Graphics are infinitely smaller than pixel based images, they can
be resized to any size and animated without creating large file sizes.
Unfortunately, many designers use regular pixel based graphics like
photos in their Flash design and end up with huge files. Rule #1 for
good Flash design should be...Use Vector Graphics only!
Problem #2 - Sound
What is a good picture
without sound? Once you have this great Flash animated page, you want to
add sound to it. This is the #2 culprit resulting in large file sizes
and slow loads. The trick here is to use loops. Flash Music Loops are
ultra short slices of music, that when looped in Flash play great
background music sound tracks that load fast and sound great. You can
find Flash Music Loops at http://www.flashmusictracks.com These loops
that are near CD quality and most are only 15k or less in size. They
also offer a free Flash Music Player that allows for the music to
continue playing even if the visitor switches to another page, you can
even select a different music track or stop the music at any time while
browsing, totally impossible with any normal Flash implementation.
Another thing that helps keep file sizes down is to use low-res MP3
files for button effects and sound effects. You don't really need 128k
MP3 quality when most computer's speakers will sound just as good with
24k or 32k MP3s. Another easy file size saver...use mono!
Deadly Sin Two -
This fact is often
overlooked. When you use Flash Buttons and Links, search engines will no
longer find your links on the pages. This can be extremely disastrous
for your search engine rankings. Search Engines need to be able to
follow links to successfully index your site. Plus, the more well placed
links the robot finds on your site, the higher your ranking will be.
When you use all Flash, you won't have any visible links and you
effectively kill any chance of being found on search engines.
What's the answer here?
Use a Flash/HTML hybrid page. Even if you have Flash links, still try to
duplicate those links on the bottom of the page in HTML code so the
search engines can find them.
Deadly Sin Three -
This factor used to be
important but today it's no longer relevant. In the early days of Flash,
many web users didn't have the Flash plug in and they moved on to
another site rather than to download and install Flash just to visit
your site. This is no longer an issue. 99% of all web users will have
browsers that can 'see' Flash pages and you no longer have to design a
Flash and Non-Flash Version for your site. If your visitors run for the
hills rather than stick around to visit your site it's the load time,
not compatibility that is to blame.
So what is a man to do?
You want Flash but you still want quick load times and good search
engine rankings. It can be done but you need to design your Flash site
with all these factors in mind. It is possible to design Flash Pages
that actually load faster than many 'regular' pages with lots of
graphics. A good hybrid design with enough HTML elements can get you
ranked well with the search engines. The Flash Music Tracks website
mentioned above is a perfect example. It uses Flash Banners and Logos
only, everything else is HTML. The site looks good, sounds good and
everything loads very fast.
So, you don't have to
be afraid of Flash killing your web business if you use Flash wisely.