The decision you make will have a big impact on many aspects of your site, not just the way it looks. Naturally this is an important consideration, as your website is often the first point of call for potential clients. But how would you feel if after building the site you couldn’t find it on the search engines? Or your site is so slow that clients give up trying to use it? Or what if you found a really good add on for your site only to discover you couldn’t use?
These are all common difficulties people face, the problem is its not until later on that these issues can be apparent.
So how can we ensure that the site we buy is the one?
What most people don’t realise is that not all site builders create websites in the same way. Broadly there are two structures that an online website builder can use either Flash or HTML. They both have their place but it’s vitally important to understand the difference between the two and choose the one that suits your company the best.
Flash – Pro’s & Con’s
Many site builders use software called Flash to create their sites. It’s Flash that powers many of the movies on-line, and is behind much of the clever animation and free games you see. Used well Flash can make your site dynamic by adding movement and effects. It’s incredibly flexible allowing the most flamboyant of designs to be created. Although using Flash is extremely complex, many website builders create an easy interface that individuals can use.
The downside is that search engines cannot read anything created in Flash. It simply see’s anything created as Flash as an image, regardless of whether or not there is text inside. In addition as all the sites navigation is in Flash a search engine will not be able to effectively map the pages. As a result Flash sites struggle to gain good search engine positions. Some website builders try to reduce the impact by creating text in the background the search engines can read. Although this can help it is doesn’t solve the problem and the search results achieved will almost certainly be affected. In addition there are many Add On’s across the internet that will allow you to add external functionality to your site. There is a wide range covering everything from individual graphics to put on your page, to complex analytical reporting. Very few packages will enable you to add on these extras and you will be limited with those who do
HTML – Pro’s & Con’s
Traditionally websites have always been created using HTML. They are popular primarily because they can be seen using all browsers (i.e. Internet Explorer) and don’t require any software download. They are incredibly versatile and best of all search engines love them. A search engine is programmed to read HTML code and as such makes a HTML site the easiest to optimise. Because HTML is actually in coding terms a simple code to use if you have access to the code you can very easily add some of the numerous add On’s that are available simply by cutting and pasting them onto your page. Because of the simplicity of the structure the sites are incredibly light and you will find that the site will load onto the screen very fast.
The only real disadvantage of HTML is its design limitations. It’s unable to create the complex graphics and effects produced by Flash. A pure HTML site would be completely static with limited use of graphics and layout.
So where do we go from here?
This very much depends upon your reasons for getting a website. If being found by the search engines isn’t important and graphics are, then a Flash site would be the best route. Alternatively if you have no need for graphics and are interested in a simple static site then HTML would be ideal.
But what if you want both?
Well there is a way that you can have your cake and eat it. There are some website builders whose structure is created in HTML but with Flash incorporated into it. That way you get all the benefits of a solid HTML built site with some of the design capabilities of Flash. You will be well crawled by the search engines and at the same time be able to add movement and video to your site. If you also have access to the HTML then other Add On’s and features can simply be pasted in without the need to understand the code. These sites represent an ideal solution for businesses who want a website to increase business but who also need to create the right impression.
So how do I know what I’m getting?
If you are looking for a site that gives you both there are a couple of key questions you can ask, so you know what you are getting. Find out if you need to have Flash installed on your computer to enable you to build your site, and ask if it’s possible to paste HTML code onto your pages. If you need flash and can’t add code then the chances are it’s a flash created site.
Taking a few moments to look at the options and decide what is important to your business may save you a lot of difficulty in the future.