How to Build an Interactive Website for Google’s Mobile-Friendly Algorithm

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This post is adapted and abridged from our FREE eBook – The Ultimate Guide to Google’s Mobile-Friendly Algorithm.

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Google launched its new mobile-friendly algorithm on Saturday April 21, 2015. While not the total ‘Mobilegeddon’ that many were expecting, the subtle changes to the algorithm has led to many re-thinking their website and how it transforms across multiple platforms, such as tablet and mobile.

Here, we consider the problems faced by websites featuring Flash content and offer some quick tips on keeping your site interactive and interesting using other web technologies.

Google says:

“Most mobile browsers do not render Flash-based content. Therefore, mobile visitors will not be able to use a page that relies on Flash in order to display content, animations, or navigation. We recommend designing your look and feel and page animations using modern web technologies.”

The Problem with Adobe Flash and Mobile

Neither Google nor Apple support Adobe Flash in their tablet and phone browsers.

When you consider that Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS are the most widely-used mobile operating systems globally, the problem becomes clear.

Given the rise in Internet connectivity from handheld devices, this lack of support has meant site owners with websites featuring Flash content have not been able to fully and effectively communicate their message to a mobile audience.

Laptop, tablet and mobile on desk

Coincidentally, since cross-browser HTML5 support came into its own in 2012, the new web standard has provided a mechanism for developers and designers to create Flash-like interactive web experiences.

The traditional full-Flash site from the early 2000s tended to be a creative-led, experiential-driven online entity. It has taken several years for HTML5 to bed down, but now the same impetus to create interesting online experiences is being developed with HTML5 websites and web apps.

For those who merely want to add a little interactive user experience to their site, modern technologies like HTML5, CSS3, and jQuery are now the best ports of call.

Don’t get us wrong, Flash still has its uses – but not typically for a business website. If your website still uses Flash, you need to think very strongly about replacing these Flash-based elements with modern equivalents.

Content providers like YouTube already detect devices and serve content accordingly. This is why you can view YouTube on your mobile device – its traditional Flash-based video player is now accompanied by a HTML5 equivalent.

How to Deal with Google’s ‘Flash Usage’ Error

There are a number of approaches you can take to deal with Google’s ‘Flash usage’ error. However, if you don’t have access to web development expertise, you may find these fixes difficult to implement.

The first approach is to deliver Flash content only to supported browsers. Using serverside or client-side code, you can detect what device is looking at your website and deliver content using an appropriate platform. However, this approach may cause difficulties if your site makes heavy use of Flash elements.

User reading a website on Smartphone

The second approach is to replace basic Flash animations with CSS or JavaScript animations. CSS3 now has many native user interface transformations and can do basic animation. JavaScript libraries like JQuery can work with CSS3 to push towards interactivity previously possible through Flash.

The third approach is, simply, to re-build your site without Flash elements. This may be your only choice if your site is heavily reliant on Flash to deliver content.

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