It use to be a common trend for artists to use Flash on their websites. While there are certainly some interactive benefits to using Flash, there are also some disadvantages. In this article, Dave Cool of Bandzoogle gives four good reasons why using Flash for content on your website can cause unnecessary problems for SEO.
Flash was once a hugely popular platform used to create streaming audio and video players, animations, and other multimedia content for websites. Now, its popularity is waning, as it struggles for relevance in a more mobile world.
We still see many artists using Flash widgets for important content on their websites, like music players, videos, and even for things like show calendars, bios, and press kits. If you’re an artist and use Flash on your website, here are 4 reasons why you should stop immediately:
1. Not good for SEO
SEO = Search Engine Optimization. Although Google has gotten better at indexing Flash content on websites, even they still advise to only use Flash for “decorative purposes” and not for content and navigation. If you have important information, like your bio, album announcements, or other body text, don’t embed it in Flash. Make sure that content is HTML based and can be easily crawled by search engines, and viewed on all platforms for your website visitors.
2. Slow loading
Any content on your website that takes time to load is wasting time for your fans and potential new fans. People have short attention spans, so if it takes 20-30 seconds for your fancy Flash based website to load, people might get frustrated and simply leave your site, and likely never come back again.
Be careful here. Even if it seems fast when you test this in your house on a reliable high-speed broadband connection, remember that many people have slower connections… under-served areas, overloaded WiFi networks, slow cellular data, etc. Your website should work for those people too. (Use this tool http://tools.pingdom.com/fpt/ to test your website’s load speed).
And not to mention making people update the Flash plug-in on their web browser before they can see your content, which again, wastes time and can potentially annoy the visitors to your site. Make sure that your best and most relevant content loads quickly and is well-organized.
3. Doesn’t display on mobile devices
If your music player is Flash-based, your fans won’t be able to listen to your music on mobile devices. Even worse, if your website’s navigation menu is designed using Flash, people won’t be able to click on any sections of your site to access any of the content. Your website will essentially be useless on mobile devices.
A few years ago Apple basically declared war on Flash and stopped supporting it on their devices, citing security and performance issues. But it’s not just iPhones & iPads, as Adobe has stopped Flash updates on new Android devices, and even recommends you uninstall the Flash plug-in.
It’s clear that more and more people are accessing web content using mobile devices, so you’ll want to be sure that your content is accessible, especially when it comes to your music.
4. Difficult to update your website
Widgets are one thing, but if your website has been designed mostly using Flash, updating it is no doubt a headache. Websites are not meant to be static, and should be updated often so your fans have your latest news. If you don’t have Flash skills yourself, you’ll need to rely on a Flash designer, which can get expensive, and cause delays.
How Do You Know if You’re Using Flash?
Often when we let artists know that they have Flash content on their site, they’re surprised and didn’t realize the widgets they were using were Flash based. Here’s how you can check:
On desktop or laptop, right-click on any widgets you’ve embedded. If the widget is Flash, you’ll see something like this that pops up and says “About Adobe Flash Player…”
For mobile devices, well, if your widgets or content aren’t showing up at all, chances are, they use Flash.
Alternatives to Flash
The most common flash-based widget we see bands using are the ReverbNation music players. They’ve now updated their widgets to be HTML5 (and they look great!), so if you’re using one, log-in to your ReverbNation account and grab the code for the new players and embed those instead.
Soundcloud also released an HTML5 widget for their music player, which is another good alternative.
And of course, if you’re a Bandzoogle member, none of our music players use Flash, and work perfectly fine on mobile devices.
For video, the standard is really to embed YouTube videos. It’s a great way to drive up views on your videos, they’re easily shareable, and YouTube also happens to be the 2nd largest search engine in the world, so it’s a good idea to have content on there. Just remember to always embed your best videos on your website, and if you have a lot of video content, you can also embed a playlist.
Bottom line is, if for some reason you absolutely want to use Flash on your website, use it for decorative purposes only, and not for important content like your music, body text, or navigation.
What do you think of Flash? Do you still use it on your website? Were you using a Flash widget and didn’t realize it?