Two Very Common Website Features that Many Mobile Devices Cannot Display

Many websites use flash animations to ad interactivity to their website and drop down menus to help people navigate their website.  While these make great website strategies for a browser on a desktop or larger laptop, many mobile devices will either not display this website content or will take a very long time to load.

Apple iPhones, iPads, many Blackberry devices, and older Android phones cannot display flash content.  However, just because a phone can display flash, does not mean it is a good choice.  Most mobile devices use a much smaller processor and have much more limited bandwidth.  That means that all content, especially large flash files, takes much longer download and appear on the screen.  If the flash file  takes too long to load, you will lose the audience.

Some of the touch screen phones, such as my older Blackberry Storm, do not display drop down menus.  These systems do not fully support what graphic designers call “rollover effects,” basically anything that happens when a mouse is over an object.  By extension this problem could affect certain types of maps and forms in which information displays when the person rolls over a place on the screen.  (Clicking the spot still seems to work.)


One alternative for both of these options is to develop the site using jQuery or another JavaScript library.  Unfortunately, there are a few people who turn off JavaScript in their browsers.  So you may need to provide alternatives for those people.

The most fool proof way to handle the drop-down navigation issue would be to create a sub-menu that duplicates the drop down menu.  Each page in the drop down menu should have the same sub-menu.

For other roll-over effects on your website, you should probably ensure there are other ways to get to the information.

What Is Flash?

Flash is a very nice tool for creating on-screen animations.  Occasionally you will still see entire sites built in flash.  You have probably seen links that bounce or move, pictures that move or fade in or out, or banner ads with moving objects.  Some of these are built in Flash.  Simpler ones are often done in JavaScript.

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