Anyone that owns or operates a website will know that the speed of change of technology can be breath-taking at times. You just get used to a new piece of software that is the very best at what it does and suddenly, it has been replaced and is outdated. Some software changes with the times but others don’t and that’s when they become a thing of the past. An example of this is Flash.
Go back a short time and Flash was the best possible way to add video or multimedia content to your website. But the software hasn’t evolved and has lost its position on top of the pile. This means newer technologies have come along and offered a better product that can better handle the modern demands.
So why should you replace your Flash website?
Industry changes forcing the issue
When Steven Jobs released a blog post about why Apple products were no longer supporting Flash, the writing was on the wall. This was back in 2010 and the head of the tech giant had concluded that Flash fell short of the modern requirements around touch interface smartphones as well as standards on the web.
Back then, the mobile internet was still pretty new and ensuring that your website worked on these devices was a nice extra that some website owners were beginning to include. Fast forward to modern times and most people own a smartphone and use it to access the internet.
In fact, in 2016 the number of searches from smartphones overtook those from desktop or laptops for the first time, showing the growth of the mobile internet. And by not having the right software on your website to work these devices, you are effectively cutting off half of the population from accessing your site.
This means website owners need to think about how their site works from mobile devices, often known as ‘mobile friendly’. Part of this is assessing any software that it uses that doesn’t work well on mobile devices – and Flash is a prime example.
Sadly, Flash has become somewhat bug filled and slow to patch in recent times and this means it doesn’t cope with many of the jobs required by modern websites and also doesn’t optimise well for mobile devices. There are also some concerns about the security of the software.
Issues with Flash
As software such as HTML5 has been introduced and is now the standard for websites, the issues with Flash have been further highlighted. In fact, there are an increasing number of incompatibility issues with other software that means websites built using Flash find they cannot use the latest in other software. Added to the problem of users not upgrading their software or updating it regularly and the use of Flash can have a dramatic and negative impact on your site.
Another issue is that even if you update the software, there’s no guarantee that your audience has and this means that people would be bounced away from the site, thinking it doesn’t work correctly. Figures from Google show that over 60% of people simply don’t return to a website when it doesn’t work correctly and 40% of them go straight to the next on the list – usually your competitor.
Part of the evolution of the mobile internet is an intolerance for things that don’t work and that don’t look right on small screens. People don’t want to be sitting around waiting for graphics to load or finding they can’t access content due to compatibility issues.
These issues highlight why many industry giants have already said they are abandoning the use of Flash. Both Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox web browsers have said that Flash no longer fulfils what they need for their customers and are not using it. Firefox, for example, believes that moving away from Flash will provide faster load times, better responsiveness and better security for their customers.
Google Chrome have permitted the use of Flash but only for the top 10 domains on any search that require the use of the plugin. This means unless you are on that top page, if you have Flash it won’t work when people follow through to your website.
Apple followed up with their move to stop supporting Flash on their mobile devices with a block on it through their Safari web browser. And Amazon reported in September 2015 that they were no longer used it in ads on their website.
Moving away from Flash
For people who invested time and money to build a website around Flash, the situation is a sad one but doesn’t mean that your website should be abandoned. As the use and support for Flash declined it is important to remove it from your site and ensure that your customers get the best possible experience, regardless of what device they visit from.
Clinging onto Flash not only harms your traffic but can also have a negative impact on your brand’s reputation. Sticking with old software can make your brand seem out of touch and old fashioned, not something that most companies want associating with them.
While it might take some money and time to clear Flash from your website and replace it with modern alternatives, the benefits are clear. And while the choice is yours, it is worth considering that if Google, Amazon and Apple think Flash is doomed, then it might be worth following along.