Flash sites are undeniably eye-catching, but unless there's a non-flash alternative for clients with slower connections or older computers, a flash-only site could cost your business potential customers.
What is an HTML mirror?
An HTML mirror is a site with all the same information, and usually the same look and feel, of a website built in Flash. While they may not deliver the same wow factor as Flash, HTML sites load much faster and require less memory to operate. HTML also has the advantage of cross-browser compatibility. Not every computer can display Flash, but every computer can interpret HTML just as the programmer intended.
Why does Flash need a mirror?
Smart web developers know that not all clients have equal capabilities. They may have aging computers stuffed to the rafters with seven years of family photos, music downloads and game software. They may have slow or unreliable connections, including, in extreme cases, dialup. It still exists, and in the current economy may even make a comeback as people look for ways to cut expenses. Flash is fun, professional and slick, but it's also impossible to load on a computer that has been optimized for performance to counteract circumstances that slow down operation. Some users, tired of slow-loading banners, have opted to turn off flash. And some simply haven't updated their version of flash and instead of seeing your website, they will get an error message telling them to download and install a new version.
Web users have little patience, and often don't know what to do if their flash is out of date or the website won't load. Offering an alternative is a good way to retain these potential clients and encourage them to return to your site. The more irritation they encounter, the more likely they are to leave and never revisit.
Another consideration is SEO – search engine optimization. Flash pages do not index, and as a result, hinder the ability to land at the top of the search ranking. An HTML mirror site indexes perfectly. While that alone will not ensure a better search engine ranking, if the SEO is good, the site has a much better chance of garnering the attention of Googlebot.
Building an HTML mirror for a flash web site might seem like double the work, but in terms of traffic, accessibility, visitor satisfaction and search engine attention, it's well worth the effort. It's something every Flash developer should consider.