News flash: Flash websites still suck

It’s been a veritable geek flash-mob — in more ways than one — since Google announced that it will now be able to search and index Flash files on the Web, thanks to a special player that Adobe has created for it and Yahoo to use. The player effectively acts like a regular user, clicking on the various buttons or dragging sliders or whatever, in order to reveal all of the content trapped within the Flash widget or page. As far as I can tell, the only thing the Adobe player won’t be able to simulate is a pissed-off user clicking away from the page altogether, because the Flash widget or movie is so annoying and/or completely useless.

I’m no SEO magician, but I also have to wonder (as Erick Schonfeld does) whether the ability to search through Flash files is going to be that great for websites, since the main thing that gets you higher in Google search results is the number (and quality) of links that you have to your content. Are people all of a sudden going to start linking to the content inside a Flash widget, or boosting their links to a page because it has searchable Flash now? I don’t think so, although I could be wrong.

But the biggest fly in the ointment for me is the simple fact that most Flash websites are — not to put too fine a point on it — crap. The technology is occasionally used to good purpose, but more often than not is a cheap and cheerful way to make a site look interactive and fun, while simultaneously robbing it of any usefulness and overdosing on eye candy. Disagree? Feel free to tell me so in the comments.

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About mathewi

I'm the chief digital writer at the Columbia Journalism Review in New York, and a former writer for Fortune magazine and the Globe and Mail newspaper.

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