As the current chair and webmaster for an affinity group, I decided to create a Flash-based website because I believed it would be more aesthetically pleasing than a site coded in regular HTML. I have been pleased with the results, but recently found out that Android’s new mobile operating system, Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean), would not support Flash. While I have been considering making changes to the site to make it friendly for non-Flash mobile devices for a while now, this new development finally gave me the motivation I needed to create an HTML5 mobile version of our site.
For those of you who want to make sure your organization’s website content is visible to as many users as possible, you may want to consider transitioning from Flash to HTML5. But before you do that, consider the following:
1. Adobe’s Flash player and certified implementations announcement. Adobe recently announced that there would be no certified implementations of the Flash Player for Android devices running version 4.1 (Jelly Bean). In addition, devices that upgrade to Android 4.1 and have a current version of Flash may exhibit “unpredictable behavior,” This may spell trouble for those trying to access your site with the newest version of Android.
A good way to determine if this issue might affect a large portion of your site visitors is to make use of a free tool like Google Analytics to determine how many are making use of Android devices to access your site. Granted, not every Android device will be making use of the 4.1 operating system. However, getting a good idea of the number of Android devices used to visit your site should provide you with a better picture as to the size of the potential problem.
2. HTML5 and Web browser issues. There may be issues for those who try to access your HTML5 content from their desktop using older Web browsers. You can check to see how compatible your current Web browser is with HTML5 by visiting www.html5test.com.
3. Security and quality: Flash vs. HTML5. HTML5 supporters point out that improved security and similar site quality can be achieved when compared to sites using Flash. While proponents of Flash can’t disregard the security issues, they often point out that Flash is a better medium to work with because HTML5 in its current state often can’t match the quality seen with Flash. If you would like to see examples of sites using HTML5 so you can make your own decision, check out http://html5based.com.
4. Try a twofold strategy. If you are hesitant about a full transition, why not adopt a two-fold strategy? If your main site is built with Flash or has major Flash components, you can make a mobile version using HTML5 so that individuals utilizing mobile devices that are incompatible with Flash can still access your organization’s content. You can talk to your Web professional about auto-detecting and redirecting visitors to your mobile site.
In conclusion, if you are unsure about HTML5 and how the future of mobile Flash player support may affect your foundation’s communication strategies, connect with your foundation’s librarian.
Sophia Guevara is the chair of the Consortium of Foundation Libraries affinity group