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Flash VS HTML 5 – A Web Design Agency’s Dilemma

The iPad was released on the Australian market last week to the usual Apple hype. People lining up outside the iconic Apple store to be the first get to play with the new toy. Regarded as a revolution in the way we browse the web, it has brought with it a new headache for all designers and developers of websites.

When the iPhone came out the first thing we noticed was it didn’t play any Flash files. Thinking that it must have been left out of the first release the next iPhone update would surely have this sorted. We quickly found out this was not the case. Given the size of the iPhone screen it could easily be argued that a normal website designed for a 1024×768 or 1280×1024 screen would not work well on a iPhone, with our without Flash. For iPhone conscious website owners the option to develop a mobile version of their website was our most popular recommendation.

Now the iPad brings a new dilemma. Browsing normal sized websites are no longer the issue. The lack of support for Adobe’s Flash is. Many of the websites we build include an element of Flash. Sometimes this is purely to help sell a company’s value proposition by combining relevant images with their USP messages but other times we use Flash as a functional development platform to build sophisticated functionality that you just can’t build using HTML. iPad owners who try to view or utilise these sites will lose out which means the website owners is really losing out. Does Apple really expect all websites built pre-iPad to completely redevelop their websites? Some have spent tens, thousands and even millions designing, developing amazing websites that are accessible to over 98.4% of Internet users (current statistics of Adobe’s Flash accessibility on computers worldwide).

Steve Jobs sites the reason they won’t support Flash is because it’s slow and is based on proprietary software. At the recent D8 conference, Steve Jobs declared that Adobe had submitted a version of Flash for the iPhone but that it ran so poorly that Apple asked Adobe to try again. Apparently, Adobe declined Apple’s invitiation. His solution – build your websites using HTML5 instead. That’s all fine and well but think about the impact this has on agencies like ours that have invested a small fortune in it’s Flash resources and skillset. Are we supposed to now hire additional resources to build everything that we build in Flash in HTML5? Are clients expected to now double up and pay for a Flash and HTML 5 version of their sites? Now if Microsoft had their say we’d be hiring Silverlight developers too and creating 3 versions! Adobe is not just the market leader but the industry standard and it has been for many years. By trying to embrace an ‘open platform’ for the future of video and animation on the web Apple has left the web design world with a massive headache and yet another consideration for any future project.

We think it’s time Adobe and Apple kissed, made up and helped make our lives and the lives of all other web design agencies around the globe as easy as it was before the iPad/iPhone.

Netstarter is a web design agency based in Sydney, Australia that focuses on designing, building and marketing successful online experiences for a large range of clients.

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