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Why Flash and Touch Screens Don't Mix

Think a 'Flashy' redesign of your web site will help attract more visitors? You may want to reconsider your strategy. It's true that Flash can make your site look more dynamic and aesthetically pleasing, but this animation and video technology could actually be an obstacle to getting more web site traffic – especially if you're trying to reach people who access your site using their iPads and other touch screen mobile devices.

Flash Isn't Intended for Touch Screens

Perhaps you have heard of the ongoing "Flash war" between two tech giants in Silicon Valley: Adobe Systems Inc., which owns Flash, and Apple Inc., creator of the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Apple has publicly stated that it doesn't allow Flash on these aforementioned products. According to an open letter from Apple's CEO Steve Jobs, one of the reasons is that this technology is "designed for PCs using mice, not for touch screens using fingers."

Many Flash-based functions require you to hover over something to get the Flash to work its magic, but on touch screens, there is no hover functionality. So, for example, if you're trying to use a Flash-based menu that requires you to hover over one menu item before you can see the others, you're out of luck.

iPad Gaining Popularity

You might wonder whether it's really worth ditching a technology just because one mobile device vendor refuses to support it. Actually, recent media reports have revealed that some companies that currently have Flash-based sites are looking at constructing entirely new or alternative sites that still have some animation to them, but that use other types of technology, so they don't miss out on this growing group of Apple product users.

It's also important to note that Apple's mobile products have been doing quite well. For the company's fiscal fourth quarter 2010, Apple's chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer reported "record iPhone sales," which, along with the "tremendous popularity of the iPad," contributed to the highest quarterly earnings and revenue in the history of the firm. Tech research company Gartner Inc. also said it expects the iPad to be the biggest driver when it comes to worldwide sales of media tablets in the next few years.

What Are Some Alternatives to Flash?

For animation-rich sites that are accessible by iPads and other touch-screen devices, Back2Front would recommend technologies such as HTML5, CSS and jQuery. Just talk to us about how you want your web site to look and function, and we will get to work on making it happen in an iPad-friendly way.

Read the full version of this article, entitled Avoid Alienating iPad Users With Your 'Flashy' Web Site, at DK Speaks.