Dealership Marketing

Flash Websites need to die

Finally! The day has come where we can all say goodbye to Flash websites. Hooray hooray!

Oh….what’s that? You like big Flash websites?

Everyday I get calls from dealers asking for referrals on various products and those calls always move into other online marketing areas. Today, a call about instant chat led to a conversation about how “the boss” wanted to go a certain route with their website. It was obvious “the boss” was on an ego trip because he wanted to plaster his face all over the homepage inside a bunch of interactive Flash sections. I thought to myself how sad it is that website providers are still trying to sell dealers on things that don’t really help business and it is also sad that these conversations are still happening in 2010….and knowing our industry we’ll still be having this conversation in 2015.

Why is it sad?

1.  SEO:  search engines still cannot read a Flash element.  If your whole site is Flash, then….ouch.

2.  Installs:  not everyone keeps their computers up-to-date.  If your site requires someone to upgrade something, it is an annoyance and most people don’t think you’re important enough to invest their time in.

3.  Apple:  iPhones and iPads don’t support Flash.  There are over 40 million iPhones and over half a million iPads in the world today.  Don’t alienate this crowd.

4.  Speed:  Flash typically takes longer to load.  If your site takes too long to load, people will bounce.  And, Google knows that.  A slow loading site will hurt your Google standings.

Here’s a different spin on things:

Javascript has always been a fantastic tool for the web; people just forgot that it was a great tool because they didn’t know how to use it properly. The same thing has happened with Flash, and the same thing will happen to Web 2.0 if we aren’t able to focus on what really matters – delivering great web designs and web systems that deliver on objectives, improve the user experience, are standards compliant and work for the job that they were intended for. Lets use whatever technology we choose, wherever its appropriate and useful for the client and their customers. Lets focus on using a technology because it will help drive our clients business. Is that too much to ask?

[Quote from:  1minus1]

If your objective is to just put your HIPPO ego out to the world, then Flash is fantastic!  But if your objective is to provide a meaningful experience to your shoppers, that will eventually lead to profit, then shy away from Flash.

Here we are in 2010 and we need to get “oooohhhh aaaahhhh pretty” out of our vocabulary and get serious about retail.

Die flash die!

Who knew an argument with Jeff Kershner, in 2005, would lead to Alex becoming a partner with him on DealerRefresh. Where will the next argument take ...
Come'on Alex..what' wrong with a BIG Flashy oooohhhh aaaahhhh pretty website?

Most dealer website companies have become successful in this industry give the "client" what they want. The HIPPOH Highest Paid Persons Opinion Homepage.

Most dealers advertise for 1 reason. Ego. This for years has been translating over to their online presence.

I'm not sure I would/could work for a dealer like that. soon?
  • D
    Drew Ament
  • April 15, 2010
I have one comment "AMEN"
I think flash is great for certain things but has slowly evolved from being used for motion graphics to rich media apps, like video players, etc. Flash has some great charting, data visualization use cases as well. I agree 100% with your post, although, I do love this one flash website: <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a>
A lot of things that are done on websites for marketing can now be done with jQuery, CSS or videos. Instead of crazy flash presentations, it is just as easy to create a video of it instead.

The future of Flash and Silverlight will be more for business applications. But unfortunately those won&#039;t work on an iPad...

The other problem is Flash is a graphic artists tool. Creating advanced websites with HTML5 and javascript will require a new skill set.
  • G
    Gregg Hunter
  • April 16, 2010
You are absolutely correct. Dealers who would never make a move without consulting their financials scrap websites for the latest fad without ever checking their previous website&#039;s metrics. You start talking about bounce rates, average visitor times, and unique visitors, and 99% of upper management will get the deer in the headlights look. But when a new vendor wants to change their website from a green background to yellow, vertical navigation keys to horizontal or add a bunch of pop-ups, they&#039;re all in.
Reason #3 is probably the biggest reason to consider; if you have a site that may be viewed on any Apply hand-held device, flash elements need to be reconsidered.

An entire site still made in flash? Scrap it b/c it&#039;s probably outdated anyway.

And w/load times being more important, Alex is right here; perfect example of heavy load times - but it makes for one of the best flash sites out there: <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a>

(SEO&#039;ing a flash site isn&#039;t impossible, btw)

Nice post Alex.
Alex, it looks like Steve Jobs agrees with you:
<a href="" rel="nofollow"></a>
At least a few of these points seem quite off...

The reason why Flash isn&#039;t supported on the iPad has everything to do with Apple. Adobe is willing to bend over backwards to get it working on Apple&#039;s devices and Apple has quite abrasively denied their efforts. A more politically correct statement would be -- at least in this case -- if you want Flash, use a device that will permit Adobe to port it to the device. You can&#039;t fault Adobe here it&#039;s almost entirely Apple.

Secondly, for almost two years Google has been able to index Flash. Flash is undeniably horrible for SEO but, the statement made, &quot;search engines still cannot read a Flash element&quot; is brazenly incorrect and dishonest.
Evan - if you&#039;re going to call me out, I would at least expect you to provide some facts that show me as &quot;brazenly incorrect and dishonest&quot;.
Here are some links from Adobe about the technology that permitted this: <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a>

And here is Google&#039;s progression with flash since 2008 <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a> <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a> <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a>

Microsoft doesn&#039;t index flash -- this probably has /something/ to do with running a proprietary competitor (Silverlight).

Yahoo also indexes flash.

I&#039;m not arguing that flash is great -- and, I hope it dies. My opinion is a concurring one; but, it still totally incorrect to say that search engines &quot;cannot read a Flash element&quot;. They can -- and better than most proprietary formats (.doc, .ppt, etc). And, having followed the Apple/Adobe dispute, I can&#039;t see the merit in Apple&#039;s argument at all -- bad politics are preventing iPad&#039;s from using Flash.
And, it looks like the far more open Andriod platform might be quick to throw on the gloves to go against the iPad. Fresh off the press today: <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a>
Thank you Evan. I can&#039;t stand being called out without any basis. But I&#039;ll be the first to stand up and say you got me if you ever do.

I want to say first that I was a big Macromedia fan (thank you for Dreamweaver) and an even bigger Adobe fan. I hope the geniuses at Adobe can figure out a new Flash format that is lighter and better. They have a business to hold onto and I see them either figuring it out or exhausting it. I just don&#039;t know where they are in that process. Seems Apple and Microsoft have foreseen the end of Flash though.

I know flash can have SEO elements built under it. I know you can build SEO elements around it. I have seen some sites that have done a really good job in that area, but I can assure you these were not car dealer websites.

I have read your webpage and know that you come from the Real Estate industry. I don&#039;t know how much time you&#039;ve spent in the car business, but Flash websites definitely need to die on the dealer level for the reasons I noted above. And let me go back to support my claim on SEO and Flash for a car dealer: most website hosting companies that even allow a dealer to add their own flash elements do not allow other pieces to be added to that element. So dealers are solely dealing in unoptimized Flash if they even know how to purchase or build their own Flash elements. In reality, most Flash-based dealer websites are touched once. Maybe the site host put some SEO content in there, but I&#039;d be willing to bet the vast majority do not keep things up to date for SEO purposes. Flash in the car business either equates to a big ego, a cheap contract, or a &quot;make my site pretty&quot; factor. I guarantee you the dealers that signed-up for a flash website didn&#039;t have SEO in their vocabulary when they signed on the dotted line. There are some who are starting to get it like <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a> but they are the minority.

I can go on and on about this, but the conclusion is still: Flash websites need to die. Flash websites absolutely should die a disgustingly fast death for dealer websites due to the reasons listed in the original article.

Evan, I hope you can view things on DealerRefresh from a car business perspective (the intended audience) and speak on that level. I agree with you on the broader level, but we&#039;re dealing with two very different animals.
I actually don&#039;t come from the Real Estate industry. I&#039;m employed in the automotive industry currently. I&#039;m a computer programmer, that is doing real estate for fun.

All of your points are opionions in your reply seem fairly accurate.

My discrepancy was with the original article. Searchable SWF means text in Flash - with no indicator otherwise - will be indexed as well as any other unmarked-up text in the search engines that support it.

Given, Flash is bad for usability, semantics, and just about any other non-visual component. It is adopted more often by the ignorant and abandoned more often by the enlightened. It certainly has much smaller set of good applications for business than it is used for. But, still that wasn&#039;t really the point of the article. The point that flash is bad because of Apple, is a fallacy of equivocation: if anything, Apple is bad because it lacks flash. It lacks Flash because of Job&#039;s ideology that he only applies to people competing with him.

The point of SEO is off for the reasons previously discussed.

And, the point of installs is the same justification that is often used to perpetuate Flash at the expense of forcing people to update their browser. IE6 users will often have flash installed but will not be able to utilize AJAX or take advantage of CSS2, or a working Javascript model.

It comes down to the reasons that Flash is bad. I fully agree with conclusion.
We have also noticed that Dealerships, especially, have VERY flash heavy websites. That is partially why we created <a href="," rel="nofollow">,</a> its offers and alternative to those types of sites.