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Brian Pasch

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When Flash is Not Flash

Automotive HTML5 WebsitesYears ago, when Dealerskins changed the face of automotive website design with full Flash based technology, dealers flocked to the new platform because their websites were more "alive" than their static brethren.

The excitement eventually faded when dealers realized that 100% flash website were not indexing properly in organic search results.

Since that realization, website platform providers have moved away from heavy use of Adobe Flash technology in favor of other solutions.

At the recent NADA Convention, website providers revealed some very "flashy" web and mobile designs that might scare dealers at first glance.

The good news is that today's "flashy" effects are not the old school Flash coding but rather HTML5 code. 

This will becoming a standard in the years ahead so if you are in the market for a new platforms, keep reading.

HTML5 Will Add Clarity

 

HTML5 seeks to clarify web coding standards and document all the "tricks" that were once undocumented. By clarifying specifics — especially in error handling — HTML5 stands to open the doors for much more efficient and effective JavaScript, heralding a new era for robust interactivity with dynamic interfaces and rich user experiences that would be too heavy and difficult, or impossible, to implement in XHTML or HTML4.

As some of the largest website providers retool their website technology for release in 2011 (Cobalt/ADP, TK Carsites, Reynolds, etc.) you will see some solutions include the graphical energy that HTML5 can deliver.

This is very important for applications or websites that are viewed on iPads and iPhone. Currently Apple does NOT support Adobe Flash technology so HTML5 is the way of the future.

So when you get your next demo from your website provider, ask them about their plans to integrate HTML5 coding on their websites to achieve stunning graphics and transitions once reserved only for Adobe Flash. HTML5 compliant websites will be more cross-platform compatible as well.

Justin Duff
Great post Brian! We've been building sites that visually have the appearance of Flash, but none of the limitations on mobile platforms, for a while now. Being a smaller and lightweight dealer website vendor, we are able to adapt to technology quicker. I encourage every dealer to pull up their website on an ipad or mobile device. Now after doing so, please visit http://bmwop.com and check out what we've done for our dealers. This is something dealers should consider as Apple has forecasted nearly 30 millions ipads to be sold before 2011 is over. I talk to more and more people switching from laptops to an ipad or tablet as their primary web surfing platform. Let's look ahead instead of playing catch up.
Brian Pasch
Justin Great suggestion. Just like dealers should Google their own name to see what appears on Page One (POD Score) they should check their website in an iPad. Google Analytics reports for most dealers who watch have seen a big increase in iPad traffic. So dealers, do as Justin suggests, and visit your website from an iPad today.
Bruce Etzcorn
Please, don't ask your vendors what their "plans are to integrate HTML5 coding on your websites to achieve stunning graphics and transitions once reserved only for Adobe Flash." Instead, ask these more pointed questions – ask your vendor how they plan to utilize HTML5's new semantic structures to improve website accessibility and help search engines make better sense of content. Ask what pitfalls there are to migrating to HTML5 too early. Ask if they plan on using any of HTML5's new form validation and Geo location API to structure customer data before sending it to your CRM. Ask if they plan on supporting three different video formats since HTML5's video support is still up in the air. The answers to these questions will be a bit more enlightening and help you understand if your vendor has their finger on the pulse of future website development. To be honest, even modern browsers don't fully support HTML5 at the moment and there is still quite a heated debate about a few of the important areas (like video codecs) that probably won't be worked out anytime soon. These debates setback the adaption rate of HTML5's widespread use. Another caveat is that many dealerships don't upgrade their browsers due to OEM programs (some are STILL running IE6) and would never experience the benefits HTML5 brings to the table. HTML5 is intended to be backwards compatible and not intended to "break" the web, but you've got to have a browser that supports these features. You also have to build in a fallback for older browsers if you choose to use HTML5 elements. This slows progress and is somewhat costly. To help paint the picture of where we are currently at in the adaption of HTML5 & CSS3, visit http://dhd.fm/he8HOD. It's an excellent resource to showcase what browsers support what at a glance. If we're talking about HTML5 we have to introduce CSS3 and Javascript API's that are included with HTML5. CSS3 does some of the heavy lifting and replaces some of those images (rounded corners, gradients, etc.) that contribute to page speed. The Javascript libraries are responsible for the "flashy effects" but they're not exclusive to HTML5. The link Justin sent is built in XHTML 4 and utilizes Javascript instead of Flash. Cool effects are possible now, all you need to do is tell your website vendor you want them and they should be able to accommodate your request fairly quickly.

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