Flash vs SEO – ALTERNATIVES AND SOLUTIONS – Part 2

 

 

     Here we proceed with the second part of the rubric “Flash vs SEO – alternatives and solutions.

In this article we will not only point to the main alternatives of Flash, but also will give you personal and global reasons why they are worth considering! In part three you can expect some concrete examples of impressive web standards web sites giving unforgettable user experience.

There were days in the past, when Web was young, when Flash was the only way to provide good compatibility with most of the browsers and platforms. Those days CSS and Java Script were not satisfactory supported across browsers.

Flash got a quick and really tremendous success. From a small app that in the beginning was just used for animations it all of a sudden turned in to a development environment. This of course came with the users - developers and designers chose to focus their attention in that area and turned their backs to the open Web. Flash Web sites were becoming more popular, while Web Standards kept the developers from satisfying users’ expectations.  

That however was not the end of the competition, because there were practitioners to push Web standards forwards, willing to keep the idea of an open Web.

 

Web Standards Pros

You cannot blame users for their expectations for a rich experience. The only way to fight is to provide it – and this is what nowadays HTML, CSS and JavaScript do as the Flash competitors, based on Web standards.

The so-obvious- in -the -past boundary between Flash websites and Web standards gradually disappeared to

 an extent – you can never be sure at first glance which technology has been used to build a particular Web site.

The list of websites favoring Web standards is constantly growing nowadays. Well there is a good apart reason for that - the iPad and iPhone’s lack of Flash - someone will say! That is correct but it is not the only reason - there are other certain benefits that Web standards bring.

Let’s take a brief look at those benefits:

 

What the tendencies are

There are not anymore exceptional things which might be done in Flash and cannot be achieved with Java Script – all you need is a little ingenuity. Here are the examples – lightboxing, scrolling news stories, good navigation, image slide show – that is all way behind achieved. 

When it comes to Video – it has turned to a push for moving Web standards forwards. It used to be once a privilege of Flash. However, when YouTube  adopted  HTML5 video element (albeit in beta), which allowed different browsers to bypass the Flash plug-in and use video native to the browser’s player, Flash was forgotten.

HTML5 video has had its difficulties, of course (“thanks” to the current codec debacle) and reports of not as good performance.  Website developers however promise to implement HTML5 video and choose an appropriate codec. When the biggest web sites take that decision there will be set a standard that will give browsers quite a better performance.

 

Modern Browser Adoption

HTML5 and CSS3 represent purposeful efforts to improve native browser performance. That is why plenty of the browser providers are implementing their specifications, though they have not been set as a standard yet. Of course,  there is a lot to still require in same direction - when it comes to CSS animation, canvas, local storage, geo-location and other specifications which once managed will reveal a new era for  Web standards.

There is plenty of time and work to pass before 100% of the appearing specifications get implemented in browsers and good majority of users upgrade to those browsers. However, if the progressive enhancement of content is supported, we’re well on the way to pushing adoption among developers.

 

What is Progressive Enhancement and how it improves a website compatibility

If progressively enhanced content is produced, the pixel-perfect rendering in every browser is given up, and the gradual degradation in older browsers is supported – that will definitely free up time to focus on other areas of development, such as accessibility and platform-delivery agnosticism.

Provided a user do not have a JavaScript or CSS enabled - he is still able to   access a Web site content though with some limitations, while Flash websites do not usually deliver content in cases when Flash or JavaScript are missing.

Having progressive enhancement in mind means building from the ground up.  It requires  designers and developers to consider the Web site infrastructure. The visa versa – working from the top down (for example designing the web site and then considering the fall-back) creates plenty of issues.

Graphic on the left shows 85% of web sites surveyed failed validation of web standards on some level (the large part of the pie), with only 15% passing (the small slice). Some failures are spectacular, with upwards of 1,000 errors; others were just a couple of typos here and there.

Smart Phone Browsers and Context Delivery

Mobile Web can be looked at as a follow or additional thought in design. A way not to have those extra efforts is building standard-based designs which match as successfully on phones as they do on older desktop browsers. Without a Flash plug-in, a website can still provide an impressive experience without much extra effort.

Mobile Web browsing is so comfortable and consumed nowadays. Web standards are the only way to deliver huger interactions in mobile browsers.

 

CMS editing flexibility

To give independence and flexibility to a website owner or an editor to edit interactive content in a CMS means not to have to coordinate with Flash developers to edit same content outside the system. Many agencies gave up Flash for WordPress-powered websites that use JavaScript so that to allow quick and easy updates to portfolios and content.

 

Go for the openness

What is Web standards?  This is simply a  standard agreement on the way a code is constructed and served. Outside user agents and scripts can be written to get data directly from the HTML. Search engines, microformats, feeds, translation and bookmarklets are a very  good example of what you receive as a user because of the open nature and consistency between the data.

If you like the Web to be really scalable and inter…, then microformats, microdata and APIs for content are the answer. Otherwise, we might reach to a point when websites consciously or not will build walls around their content.

 

Go for Freedom

People must be free to consume and create information, without being restricted by licensing  and legalities. You do believe in that! Flash, Silverlight and other corporately owned technologies are trying to restrict that freedom with the policy of restricted accessibility. 

To build and deliver content with Web standards is the best technological solution which also supports the freedom of an open Web.

Do expect more - concrete examples of impressive web sites, favoring web standards and giving unforgettable user experience!

To be continued...

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