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Commentary by John Hernandez

RISMEDIA, March 3, 2008-With each passing year, Internet technology evolves further in presenting users with rich, interactive content using music, animation, and movement. Flash technology has long been a contributor to this movement since it first began to make its inroads just over ten years ago. Today the majority of prominent websites use Flash in some way to enhance their appeal, some going as far as to design their website completely in Flash, making it a completely interactive and engrossing experience.

While Flash can radically enhance the appeal of website, it does come with a couple of caveats. If you’re a business looking to employ Flash to add spice to your website, there are a few things both positive and negative to be aware of that may affect you depending on what your target goals are.

Just like traditionally designed websites, Flash components must be loaded before they can be viewed. Smaller components usually load instantly but as file sizes grow so do the loading times, especially for these aforementioned websites designed completely using the technology. With the increasing availability and affordability of high speed connections, loading times have become almost a non-issue but contrary to what you might’ve been told, there are indeed still people who are surfing the Internet on dialup and these Flash websites can take ages for them to see which will only make them impatient and in turn make them visit a competitor’s website.

You’ve probably heard the phrase “content is king” thrown around a lot and it is indeed true. Unless you’re an artist looking to promote your work online, substance is by far more essential than the style, especially if you’re concentrating on strong search engine optimization.

Unless you’re using common text (e.g.: contact us) do not include any unique text within a Flash component. On the plus side, you can animate the words “contact us” and add some spice to an otherwise common website standard but if you were to do so for your regular content, you’re essentially shooting yourself in the foot since you’re eliminating what makes the website unique. Prominent search engines won’t be able to pick up this text since it’s embedded inside of a Flash component and your users won’t be able to copy and paste any text, an annoying impediment if they want to copy the name of a product or address.

Don’t underestimate what well thought out Flash can do however. If you sell products within the sports industry, you certainly want to use movement to complement and assist in conveying your message and your products. Implementing video is also a lot easier than the convoluted process it once was. The tough part is obtaining the footage and editing it down.

John Hernandez is CEO of Real Estate Systems Integrator, Inc.

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