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All Flash Sites and International Accessibility
Should we leave the html version?
Orbit




msg:1583213
 1:38 pm on Feb 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

Hi, we have just launched a 100% flash site for a reasonably high profile name brand (UK). The site now has over 10 international variants and for each there is a text-only version option instead of the flash. This is for accessibility and also SEO.

Of course, the text only version is visually dull compared to the real site and the client now wants to get rid of it. Arguments put forward include... no one gets sued over it etc etc.

I disagree and think it is part and parcel of doing a full 100% flash site in todays times for a name client.

Also if we lost the text-only version I have no idea how other international markets may react... Finland, Sweden, US, Australia, Spain, Denmark, Norway, South Africa, Italy etc.

Does anybody have any advice on this? What do you all think...

 

bill




msg:1583214
 7:33 am on Feb 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

Welcome to WebmasterWorld Orbit.

That doesn't sound like a very wise idea. The growing number of Flash blocking applications and services might give them a clue that you can't rely 100% on Flash to deliver your message. There are a number of accessibility issues in addition to the SEO difficulties that you will encounter without a text version.

Personally I wouldn't do online business with a company that only had a Flash interface. I'm also the sort who surfs with Flash turned off, so I may not be in their target audience. Could you argue the opposite and have them drop the Flash interface and keep the text? ;)

Orbit




msg:1583215
 1:48 am on Feb 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

Hehe, thanks for the welcome.

I think I've convinced who I need to to keep the text-only version... for now.

I'll have to see how this one pans out. It's been a looooong time since I have been involved in a 100% flash site. Looking forward to seeing the results, especially for future advice to clients.

It is a fashion brand and that makes things a bit harder from a 'sensible' web business perspective. Levis, Dior, they all have flash sites. Not very helpful to my POV.

bill




msg:1583216
 4:19 am on Feb 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

Sounds like you're in a tough spot there. ;)
Here's an old classic thread that has a ton of ammo for you on both sides of the fence: Flash: The Pros, The Cons, and The Solutions. [webmasterworld.com] Also take a look through our Flash and Shockwave [webmasterworld.com] forum to elicit more comments.

skibum




msg:1583217
 5:27 am on Feb 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

We have a big client in the US and in addition to the main corporate site, builds smaller sites for some of the regional businesses. When it comes to the number of leads generated on a nice regional HTML site vs a Flash site, there is no comparison. Lots more people bounce out of the Flash sites and far fewer leads are genrated through the Flash sites. The CEO just decided they need more Flash sites because he sees competitors doing it and seems to like the Flash sites better.

This after they informed us that there was going to be an increased focus on search engine optimization and PPC this year. ;)

Do whatever you can to keep the text version up!

Lobo




msg:1583218
 7:06 am on Feb 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

Yip! as lovely as flash is ... it has it's issues...

and for a commercial site that main one would be search engines unable to read the content, hence wont get you listed...

I don't know how important it is to you, but unless you have specifically coded for it, speech recognition apps will not be able to access the site either...

it's getting better, but still not there enough to ignore a text version...

Orbit




msg:1583219
 11:22 am on Feb 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

All really good stuff and those links are useful, however to hone in a bit, I'm fishing for any info on how accessibility is perceived in other countries. Are most countries sort of on an equal footing with their views on accessibility?

For example, in the UK we can dig out the laws and stuff, but generally I don't think a big fuss would be made over a non-accessible fashion site.

Just wondered if it's frowned upon more strongly in any countries more than others. Any global trends etc.

I do have a HTML shop alongside the main flash site so it could be argued that provision of service is still there. But the rest of the content, the stuff we have to update(!), is in the movie.

pmkpmk




msg:1583220
 11:41 am on Feb 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

If the text version reflects 100% the content of the Flash version, then use a JavaScript redirect which detects Flash/non-Flash and redirects accordingly. This will be well appreciated by search engines AND by non-Flash-users (like myself).

The SEO advantage alone is worth the effort.

Orbit




msg:1583221
 1:21 pm on Feb 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

There is a html country chooser page with the option for text-only versions, then we launch the flash.

Traditionally I stay away from any redirects if at all possible.

Gene_B




msg:1583222
 2:41 am on Feb 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

To be blunt: I don't have flash, I don't want flash and if I visit a site that only has flash then I don't want that product.

Lobo




msg:1583223
 8:42 am on Feb 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

To be blunt: I don't have flash, I don't want flash and if I visit a site that only has flash then I don't want that product.

that seems strangely ignorant for someone involved with web matters?

pmkpmk




msg:1583224
 8:49 am on Feb 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'm not as 110% as Gene, but I feel mostly the same. If a site is Flash-only, it better has to be a product or service without alternative, otherwise I'm gone. In my preferred browser - Firefox - I have no Flash installed. So in order to watch a Flash site I need to start up IE. and that barely happens these days.

Gene_B




msg:1583225
 6:32 pm on Feb 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

that seems strangely ignorant for someone involved with web matters?

Well, .. maybe a bit harsh but, to me, flash is just an overworked gimmick that slows down some sites and sometimes leave unwanted debris on the viewers machine.

Lobo




msg:1583226
 6:47 pm on Feb 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

Sorry didn't mean it to sound harsh, it's more of a surprise..

It's like saying a love cooking, but I'm not interested in anything except what I cook...

Flash love it or hate ( and somehow it does seem to be that way?) it is a fact of the web, used in some form on a great percentage of sites.. and in a number of cases to great effect.

I understand the down sides, but don't think you should let it become a predudice .. it is part of the scene , part of web business, it's a fact of web life..

Orbit




msg:1583227
 12:29 am on Feb 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Trying to get back on topic... I'm as critical on 100% flash sites as the next person but the angle that I'm unsure about is accessability on an international scale.

For all I know Finland or Sweden may take accessability far more seriously than say, the UK. Anybody shed any light on any international trends? Are there any at all?

And as for the big question - if 100% flash is so 'bad' - why are name brands doing it? I have a few theories.

Lobo




msg:1583228
 3:22 am on Feb 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Actually I'm not so critical on flash sites .. like everything else it depends on your market ... if gaming sites stuck to static pages then all the teenagers would run laughing off to somewhere else that was far more interesting...

The same goes for accessibility, how many of your potential customers will be blind or partially sighted .. this only is fulfilled if a company makes a special needs policy or is a charity or government department ( and even not always then) you have to be realistic... the emphasis on E-Commerce is not on the E ...

Lobo




msg:1583229
 3:45 am on Feb 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'm not sure exactly what you are looking for?

The uptake of flash .
[macromedia.com...]

World usage patterns & demographics..
[etcnewmedia.com...]

or Policies Relating to Web Accessibility..
[w3.org...]

bill




msg:1583230
 6:54 am on Feb 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

There are applicable accessibility laws in the US and UK it seems. I don't recall anywhere else where this has been specifically legislated. That doesn't speak for trends though.

I can tell you that the Japanese, Chinese and Korean markets are not places where accessibility issues come into play much if at all. They love all of the Flash driven interfaces. The awareness of accessibility issues here is quite low. That may change though...

In terms of trends I would expect the EU to legislate something akin to the UK or US laws in the future. That in turn would prompt other areas to adopt similar laws. I don't think accessibility standards will have significant uptake until they're legislated. For most markets I wouldn't say its a matter of if this will happen, but when.

pmkpmk




msg:1583231
 8:13 am on Feb 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Germany: federal/government sites have to be 100% accessible. For everybody else it is just recommended. Consciousness gets raised through media. The special Biene award [biene-award.de] gets rewarded each year to outstanding sites who are accessible.

Biene - the German word for "Bee" - stands for "Barrierefreies Internet Eröffnet Neue Einsichten" which roughly translates to "Barrier free Internet opens new perspectives".

Orbit




msg:1583232
 5:29 pm on Feb 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Thanks all (esp.Bill), most helpful.

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