Google and Yahoo to Index Flash (Unfortunately)

Earlier this month, Google and Yahoo announced that they will soon begin reading and indexing Flash files. This means that the search engines will be able to read through the content inside a full-Flash website (example) and commit the content to the index, where it will be ranked like any other website.

Flash developers are still celebrating, and I’m sure this is good in some ways, but…

I really don’t like the idea of Flash sites being indexable. People are going to start thinking it’s okay to build entire sites in Flash again, and believe me, we don’t want that. Though they will soon be indexable by search engines, Flash sites still

  • Take forever to load as opposed to a “normal” page.
  • Fail on usability. Example: Want to open a Flash site’s page in a new tab? Forget it. You can’t just middle-click the button, and the right-click menu won’t work either.
  • Don’t work with screen readers, so optically challenged people will have a hard time.
  • Don’t print well, or at all.
  • Are more like brochures or presentations than like a website. A website has multiple points of entry, and each page has it’s own unique URL that a user can jump to. With a Flash site, you land on the main page every time, and have to navigate to the particular content. The web is not TV.

Not to mention that Flash sites are generally littered with silly animations and other visual gimmicks…and one of the big reasons people build Flash sites is so they can have those silly animations.

I think this move will encourage more Flash sites to be built again, and I really don’t want that. Don’t get me wrong, Flash is a useful technology, and is great when used sparingly, in scenarios that add to a site. I like Flash video players, Flash countdowns, etc. I don’t like seeing entire websites built in Flash. With the exception of a couple that I think are kind of cool, or if I really need a certain bit of information, I’ll often leave when I see a Flash site.

Further reading…