By sheer coincidence, I recently had to reinstall the operating systems on both my home PC and my work PC within a couple of days of each other.
I loaded all my usual software, set Firefox as my default browser, then started doing my usual 10 to 12 hours a day of work online. A few days later I realized that I never loaded the Macromedia Flash plugin in Firefox on either PC. The only thing that led me to realize this was some sort of Flash banner ad on a site I visited. As a little test, I decided to not install the Flash plugin and see how much of my ordinary internet life would go on without being interrupted.
3 weeks later, I can say that I have not been negatively effected by not having the Flash plugin on either my home PC or my work PC. There was only one site, the Weekly Standards, that had a Flash menu for voting which I was unable to see or use. Still, everything else on the site was usable.
It would seem that either creating sites in Flash is becoming more widely known as a hinderance to accessibility, usability, and search engine optimization, or the sites I visit happen to use Flash only on banner ads.
It’s a mixture of both of these things I suppose, but overall, I think this is a good sign. Web designers seem to be moving away from Flash-based design as Web Standards and Accessibility gain ground. They are realizing that Flash has a place on the web and can be useful for certain interactions, but dominating a site’s navigation and design with such a restrictive media definitely smells like poo-poo-poo.
If Flash goes the way of animated gifs and scrolling marquees, we will see it used more and more for advertisements, and less and less for practical design. The ‘kewl’ factor is fading.