How important are good looks? The best way to look sexy on the net is to have your site built using Flash, which allows the possibilities of animated, pin-sharp vector graphics, an unlimited choice of fonts, and all sorts of interactive functions - combining to create a sensually rich experience. However, sites built entirely with Flash are not easily spotted by search engines, are often associated with prohibitive load times for impatient users, and can be hard to edit for the owner of the site. But...
"If HTML could perform all the functions of Flash, we would not need to use Flash. Flash represents a direction that the mainstream wants the web to work towards."
That was written in 2002! And for better or for worse, visual aspects are still very important to many clients today. Good coders can combine the latest XHTML and CSS to achieve many of these without using Flash, but "the sad fact is.. there are more people with the flash plugin then people with browsers that support the new HTML standards."
Still true to this day.
There are other arguments - designers can tend to specialize in one or the other technology, and therefore project their bias onto the sites that they build.
"The question should not be about which technology is better. The fact is that both technologies can be used seperately or together to achieve a better experience for the site user."
So everybody's known the truth for years - each has its place. Last year Geoff Stearns said it again, drawing some heavyweight examples of the "middle way"..
"Would you have an argument with an architect about whether to build a house out of wood or concrete? Of course not, they would use each material to build the parts of the house that the respective material is best for. Sometimes you might want to build a shack or barn out of all wood, sometimes you might want to build an all brick house, but many times youâ€™ll want to use the best material for each section of the house. Build the foundation out of concrete, the walls and roof out of wood."
"Another example is Flickr. They started out using Flash to display all of the images, including the image notes and the other toolbar options along with each image. While this might have been a good choice as the site started out, it was soon replaced by a more efficient HTML version of the toolbar and notes system that works just as well as the Flash version. They did end up keeping one small bit of Flash so users can rotate images and see a preview before they save it."
A little Flash well deployed can go a long way, and does - but for now, good old HTML is still an essential spanner in the belt as far as we're concerned.