Flash intros were once prevalent on the Web. They’re animations presented to visitors when they arrive at a website. Here’s an example. To help determine whether they’re a fad of the past, or provide website owners and visitors value, we asked web designers and developers:
Should businesses consider Flash intros for their websites?
Owner, Circle Graphics
“I think that at the current stage we’re at with the Internet and how it’s being used, Flash intros are a waste of time and money for most businesses. If you have a website that is focused on entertainment then there are some good applications. If U2 wants to show me concert footage or some hyped-up artwork for a new album, cool. Anything other than that, is a waste of time.
“It has been proven over and over again that Flash intros frustrate visitors. If you are properly utilizing Flash, it needs to provide value and real purpose, otherwise, it’s just a distraction. It’s like the website is saying, ‘Let me foist this movie on you for 20 seconds instead of letting you go to the place you really want to.’ I wrestle customers to the ground when they ask us to develop Flash intros, even though we can make good money on them. If it isn’t improving the users experience and driving them to the product or service, we are not interested.”
“There are several common misconceptions about Flash. Many people believe Flash files are large and slow to download. In reality, starting back when we all connected to the Internet via dial up, Flash was invented as a low bandwidth technology, which could add motion and sound to your web page. As a streaming vector technology, files can and should be small in size and quick loading.
“Second, there has long been the myth that Flash is not search engine friendly. SEO gurus who are simply uninformed about the technology have propagated this myth. In fact, it has always been possible to properly optimize a Flash page by providing SE content behind the scenes via special HTML tags (as recommended by Google). Now, because of the enormous popularity of Flash, Google and other search engines have developed the technology to read text boxes inside the Flash files.
“However, as a Flash developer today, I feel there is a legitimate reason to modify the old traditional ‘Flash intro’ model. Not because of any limitation of the technology, but rather to enhance the user’s experience. The old model was primarily eye candy and seldom included the site navigation. Users had to either wait for the animation to finish or click a ‘skip intro’ button. Although users today continue to enjoy the interactive multimedia nature of Flash, their desire for quick access to content has resulted in a different approach to Flash home pages.
“Today, we embed simpler Flash elements into a more traditional HTML structure — still bringing static web pages to life, while providing a more streamlined user experience. We feel this gives the site owner and user the best of both worlds. This approach preserves the entertainment value and eye appeal that Flash offers, while providing quick access to the navigation and improving accessibility.
“Is the ‘Flash intro’ dead? No. But, like everything on the Internet, it has evolved.”
Co-founder & Online Marketing Wizard, October 17 Media
“Flash introductions do nothing but waste precious time and help websites lose visitors.
“Flash intros were introduced in the early web days when we needed to entertain our visitors as the site loaded. Internet connections were slower and a Flash introduction would tell people that we cared enough about them to entertain them while they waited. When the technology was new it also told the audience that this company was cutting edge and had invested money into their website.
“But, by today’s standards the opposite is true. Flash intros are no longer necessary as a good site doesn’t have a loading time. Its file size is small and it’s accessible from all the browsers including mobile phones. For example, Flash isn’t available on iPhones and iPad. It also tells people that you haven’t bothered to update your site if you are still playing an old introduction for a site that you built in the late 90s.
“Flash can do some amazing things such as create interactive Flash games, so it still has its place in the Web world. However, you should think long and hard as to why you want Flash on your site, and if it will hinder your audience’s online experience. If there is no good reason other than you think it looks ‘cool’, then you probably shouldn’t use Flash.”
Creative Director, Creative Engine Communication Design
“It would all depend the type of intro, and I would add if it is even necessary to have an intro in the first place.
“Studies have shown that people have lost the patience for intros as well as Flash loading times, and just skip right through them. Unless the necessary intro has very complex animations that cannot be done any other way, or of the intro is a movie, there are much better solutions out there that would suit the communication and programming objectives better.
“The purpose of an intro is to deliver key messages. There are many ways these messages can be delivered more efficiently.”
“The old Web was static. When Flash came out, the ability to take a static web page and add motion made it contemporary. So, to stay current and competitive, businesses added Flash intros and embellishments. It instantly contemporizes a website.
“I always say using Flash intros depends on two things: if you’re famous you can do pretty well anything you want on the front page of your site; if you’re a start-up business, I don’t advise it. That’s because if the website’s not established yet, it can hurt the search engine optimization of a website.”
Office Manager, Web Candy
“It depends. If it’s just for the sake of having a Flash intro, then my answer is no. If it’s relevant to the business, then Flash has its place. For example, a reseller of lights that runs a Flash intro on their lighting products — that’s a valid use. An example of bad use would be an online jeweler having a bunch of dancing girls, who have nothing to do with their products. That’s unnecessary.
“Length of intro should be taken into consideration. A Flash intro that’s more that 15-20 seconds takes lots of time to load, which can lose the site visitor. For that reason, speed of server should also dictate whether or not to feature a Flash intro.”