To Flash or Not to Flash?

We’ve been having an interesting internal debate about what techniques to use for various projects. Needless to say, each part of the CDG team has a unique perspective on things.

The designers would love to have all Flash sites, because they can create a more immersive visual experience. We all know that with the techniques our Flash crew can use, we can design database driven Flash sites that are also easy to maintain on the client side. Flash frees them from the constraints of normal code and allows for cool transistions, as opposed to just clicking page to page.

But, if you ask the marketing crew — they prefer Flash integrated into a site, but not being the whole site. The reasons on this are clearly based in the needs of the marketing team. They want to have the site be super search friendly. Now, as the Flash guys will point out — there are ways to add some Google-friendly text to a Flash site these days — but not enough for the marketing team to feel comfortable. There’s also issues with tracking. While great advances have been made, you have to be really careful in how you build a Flash site to make sure that your website activity logs have enough data to be worthwhile.

Content Development
The content team is torn. While the possibilities of Flash are great for creating rich and fascinating content. They are more used to thinking in terms of static or hyperlinked copy. The nice thing is they are now thinking of content development in more three-dimensional terms, which is creating new challenges for the designers. In the past, they thought of copy and images. Now they are working with copy, images, movies, sound, and every possible combination of those elements.

The usability team generally hates Flash, but knows there’s tricks to make Flash usable. Usability isn’t in the medium, necessarily. Flash can be really user-friendly and HTML sites can be completely unusable. There’s new techniques in Flash like “tagging” which allow users to actually use the back button in their browsers and bookmark unique locations in a Flash site. These techniques weren’t available until recently.

Of course, the programmers would love to see all CSS and Cold Fusion / sites. They’re really not concerned about the visuals.

Debate Goes On
The debate rages on — which is good. As we hash out all the issues, we are able to learn from each other and find new creative ways to build innovative sites and solutions that meet client needs. That’s the trick I guess — figuring out what the best option for them is. Doesn’t really matter if it’s cool, if it doesn’t do the job.

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