After significant security failures, thirst for user resources and industry-wide pressure, 2016 will be the first year marketers will not have Flash to fall back on as a crutch. Thankfully, new technology is readily available to take its place.
As an interactive element, Flash has been intertwined with the user experience since its inception. With Web design now more important than ever, marketers must turn to other tools to maximize how visitors interact with their Web elements.
Responsive Design UX
Steve Jobs built the case against Flash five years ago. In that time, the globe was gifted 12 different iPhone iterations with no sign of slowing down or using Flash at all. In fact, mobile supremacy has prompted industry-wide marketer response in the form of responsive design.
According to comScore, total digital media usage has grown 49 percent with mobile apps contributing to 77 percent of time spent. Mobile browsers are also seeing a strong growth at 53 percent. Mobile devices overall account for 62 percent of all time spent with digital media.
More companies are paying attention to these shifts in technology and user behavior and crafting strategies to stay visible. This has to be the year to ensure their Web elements are accessible to mobile audiences. The best approach is using standardized coding languages understood by all devices - namely, HTML5.
HTML5 Aids Discovery Marketing
HTML5 ensures that all the important multimedia elements used in Flash are here to stay - without any cumbersome digital bloating. You can still embed interactive video, audio and other elements to grab a user's attention and direct them to new content, but there's another bonus that might not be immediately apparent - marketers now have more streamlined access to an important aspect to discovery in SEO.
Flash websites were notoriously difficult to rank in Google due to their lack of searchable content. Websites built in HTML5 make it easier for search engines like Google to crawl its onsite copy with more transparent SEO. They allow elements like links, headers, image alt-tags, anchor text, meta titles and meta description tags to be optimized better without disrupting an engaging on-site experience for users.
Load Times UX and Responsive Design
It's no secret that Flash increased the size of Web pages. In 2016, users don't want to download any files in order to access a site just because it has Flash.
Readers are time-conscious, especially when they discover your page with a clear intent to read, watch or buy. What's more, people go to your website for information, not animation. Any extra time it takes to load your website is time they spend looking for alternatives rather than engaging with your content.
Removing Flash serves as one more website optimization to keep readers engaged with your content faster and longer. Improved load times also lead to higher SEO rankings and user experience will get a much-needed boost. Keeping users on your page holds no value without well-written content that solves user needs and drives conversions.
Forward-thinking brands have already graduated to HTML5, but Flash still persists in 15.6 percent of the world's top 1000 websites. The technology is here - 2016 needs to be the year to optimize your website content before you lose your visitor engagement to the competition.
Michael Pasco is the marketing coordinator for ZOG Digital, a leading marketing and technology company headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona. His background in journalism, digital marketing and Web design drive his passion for writing thought leadership content focused around the evolving tech industry. ZOG Digital's discovery marketing solutions include search engine optimization, social media marketing, paid advertising, and design and development. For more information, visit www.zogdigital.com or follow us on Twitter @ZOGDigital.