Mistake #7: Flash as your whole B&B web site
Flash can be a wonderful addition to a web site to help you put property tour slideshows, animated information, maps, 360 degree room views, and even printable recipes (or other documents) on your inn's web site. The content can be very valuable to your guests. As long as it is only used in pieces, there is no real problem. However, some site designers take this too far and actually produce entire websites in one big Flash file. They often look great and are fun to play with, but they are rarely ever found in a search engines because search engines can't really read Flash. Google can sometimes read text inside the Flash, but all text is looked at as being the same, so there is no way to emphasize one phrase or another. The "cool factor" of Flash as a whole website can be great for movie sites or fantasy sites, but for a bed and breakfast website that needs to be able to be found in a search engine, there is just no good reason to have an all Flash site.
Here are some examples of sites that use all Flash. I've included them just so you can see what an all Flash site looks like. I am not saying they are good examples or bad examples. They are just all Flash sites that can't be optimized for search engines:
Avoid Flash for your B&B web site
There are several reasons why an "all Flash site" should be avoided for bed and breakfasts:
- As already mentioned, search engines can't read Flash correctly, if at all. This means you are restricting people from finding your site in all of the major and minor search engines.
- The web address (url) is the same for every page. So imagine trying to send an email to someone with a link specifically to your directions page. It can't be done, they would have to start at the beginning of your site and find the directions themselves. The same would be true for any other specific page of your web site you were trying to send someone to. You can't link them directly to the information they need and that prevents you from being the helpful innkeeper you strive to be.
- Sites that use all Flash are usually painful to sit through more than once. They are often cool the first time, but subsequent visits usually become pretty annoying. You don't want to annoy people on their return visits to your site.
- Updating information or adding pages becomes much more time consuming and much more expensive as a result. Flash programmers usually have a higher hourly rate than ordinary (html) web designers.
- Some visitors don't have the Flash player installed on their computers so they would be unable to see your site at all. Many businesses have removed the players from their computers so employees can't play as many games, and some older computers just don't have it.
- If you decided to switch designers, you couldn't just take your site and go the way you can with a normal (html) web site. Any designer can edit any normal (html) web site, but in Flash, you need the source file. Often times the original designer is not likely to give the source file to the person you hired to replace him.
For all of these reasons you should avoid using an all Flash web site. Flash in small pieces can be a great addition, but an all Flash bed and breakfast site is a recipe for a marketing disaster.
How can you tell if your site is done all in Flash? If you can click all around on your site and jump to different places but the web address (url) never changes, you might be in Flash. If you click on your web site page with your right mouse button (right-click using Windows or Ctrl-click on a Mac) a little menu will appear. If the very bottom thing on the menu says "About Macromedia Flash Player... " your site is done in Flash. (see the example in the image to the right)
Advice for B&B web design
- If you are having a new site built, specifically tell your designer you do not want an all Flash site under any circumstances.
- If you have an existing site that is done in all Flash, I strongly recommend that you have it redesigned. It was a mistake, and should never have been done in Flash. They may be able to salvage some of the images from the Flash but essentially you will need a site build from scratch. An all Flash web site is guaranteed to greatly restrict the amount of traffic you get from search engines.
- If you are looking for a new designer or website promotion specialist, examine the sites in their portfolio. If they are trying to impress you with an example of an all Flash site, walk away, you now know more than they do. At the very least, make sure they realize you don't want an all Flash site under any condition.