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I'm going to write about why 'all flash' sites are so useless as business websites and hoped I might pick your brains for some ideas....
Okay, the main issues are:
Anyone care to expand on that?
Also, when you have a completely Flash site, there are other issues. When a user goes to the search engine, they are searching for a particular piece of information or a product. Now, the search engines job is to get this information to the user as quickly and accurately as possible. With a static site, the search engines will usually pull up the page in question, even if it is a few levels deep within the site (some search engines do, some don't). With a completely Flash site, you give this up. You also make the user sit through all of your Flash whiz when all that they usually want to do is get to that piece of information.
It talks about how not to make sucky flash sites recommending things like "use flash for what it does well" - not for navigation or inherently textual content.
There's more info here: [uie.com...]
few of these are employed to make Flash for web sites...for non-dynamic applications there are few instances where Flash is the best option
ergo...most people would be better off avoiding its use...in the circumstances when it is useful it would help the overall standard of the web if more people hired a specialist rather than cobble together something third rate
joined:Jan 30, 2002
The two points you quote from what I remember were the main points for people not choosing to go down a flash road of design. I guess its a catch 22.....because there will be no demand for SE's to index .swf and the like if there are not enough of 'em out there.
I am positive flash can be used in a good way....its just that the fundamentals are not mentioned enough in regards to flash.....unlike the fundamentals of HTML/validation/SE friendly pages that everyone want to be aware of first and foremost.
Maybe if we could at least list the good ways that flash can be implemented we can at least define what is left over and "bad" :)
/off to reference that other flash thread.....
Explaining the function of you product. You can make users (potential buyers) visualise and understand better what you want to sell them by showing them a short animation than by words or still images.
Funky navigation. You can do cool navigation things with flash, just always remember to have an alternate HTML navigation.
I'm evaluating one such site now. How do you tell someone who recently paid $$$$ that their site could not have been made more search engine "unfriendly" if they tried? No way to candy coat this one....
Flash CAN be used for in-site enhancements - very effectively too, but unfortunately there are too many 100% Flash created sites. Some are intended to be no more than what they are: presentations art.
Others, have been created when "marketing" and competitive positioning were the actual goals. These are the sites where the owners wonder why they aren't getting the traffic they need to compete in their market.
Flash is excellent for pieces of the entire web site puzzle. All flash sites are the problem. I don't think many people would create an entire website out of one applet. It has its strengths and weaknesses.
As Sinner_G pointed out Flash is excellent for navigation, help files, and graphic module plugins for chats and forums, but it is not a very good content format. Mixing html, server-side code, flash, and other web formats gives you a more rich web environment. I wouldn't paint my house with the same brush the entire project.
Flash needs to be used for enhancing interfaces and not storing content. It is the same as developers placing their content in pictures. Most of us use pictures but know where not to use them. The same should go with flash. It is just to tempting for new developers to go completely flash. That is what makes some Flash sites useless.
Yes, sometimes Flash serves the purpose exceedingly well! But I have seen informational sites that deploy complex Flash navigation schemes where simple HTML would serve much better.
And since page size is a factor in most cases (with the exceptions where users are aware of the "heavy content"), why would anyone want a 25-30kb navigation "movie" and then spend additional kb to supply the HTML equivalent?
I agree with BOL that more fundamentals need to be taught. I have used flash for 5 years. About 1/4 of the sites I create have a flash aspect. Flash is just another weapon in my arsenal.
I too get annoyed at Flash intros that I can't circumvent. The first time you see it, it's cool, but after that it's annoying.
Still, I do see a place for it, and I've seen some very good uses for it. I'm thinking about using it again for a non-profit music series site I do every year.
Those targets like flashy things (pun intended ;)) so I give it to them, knowing there IS a trade-off load time vs. gimmicks. As with everything else, you have to find the correct balance.
OTOH Flash seems the ideal tool for information visualisation/direct manipulation features. ISTR a US car site where when you searched you could then drag "attribute sliders" to widen/narrow your results(?)
I think klearning have got it just right, though not really an all 'flash' site.
This thing is a joke, not only from a usability/SE point of view, it's just a pile of meaningles crap. Sheesh! The things I do for money ;)
Yes, it is the designer/developers's responsibility (just as in HTML) but the potential for overkill is too easy. I remember one flash movie I was creating: at 175kb it did everything I wanted but trimmed down to a more usable 100kb, I lost a lot of the pizazz.
This was back when 28.8 modems were the norm. After some soul searching I dumped both versions and went with HTML - the resulting page still gets a few dozen hits per day. It is indexed all over and even has a good number of inbound links. It is VERY search engine friendly!
And that's the main problem: flash pages tend to be static and are updated only reluctantly. I think, it's so much easier to add/update a HTML page than to update a Flash movie.
Some things that annoy me are:
If a company wants to provide additional information they can use all the flash they want. But for basic information/product information/virtually anything they should stick to HTML. If I had a lot of time, a fast flat rate and wasn't looking for specific information, then I might like to watch/use some flash pages (or read a book or go to the movies). The problem's that Flash pages tend to get annoying really fast: the cool effect you liked first gets really annoying over time.
Back in 2000, Nielsen wrote an alertbox article called "Flash: 99 % Bad" [useit.com]. After announcing a strategic partnership between Macromedia and Nielsen Norman Group to improve Flash usability [news.com.com] on June, 3rd, he updated this article. On Nielsen' useit site [useit.com], they are looking for "good examples of Internet-based applications and tools implemented in Flash." If only I knew one ... ;)
They tend to use lots of bandwidth, and so are extremely slow to download (the majority of Internet surfers, even in the US, do not have broadband). A semi-permanent "Loading..." page is more effective than any normal splash page at filtering out most of your visitors.
Search engines have problems indexing them.
Users have problems bookmarking them.
Browsers have problems printing them.
They require a plugin. Although the Macromedia Flash plugin is widespread, new versions of Flash often require updates. Mr and Ms Average-Surfer actually don't have a clear idea how to download and install a plugin, and once they have (and rebooted), they are unlikely to remember how to get back to your site. Plus the plugin can get corrupted.
The potential for unexpected problems is increased. For example, an acquaintence of mine possesses a browser which pops up an error message everytime a Flash animation is downloaded (but displays the Flash anyway).
What about text-only browsers?
Many of the features that characterize bad Flash sites are down to the designer, it is true. However, Flash positively encourages these things.
In about 80% of cases, the use of Flash is pointless and just slows down the website needlessly.
Just my 2 cents.
To this I ask, "Who benefits from this?" Does the web site designer revel in the fact they made something join, spiral, spin, or move - with no regard for the point of it all? Do they think the average visitor finds such parlor tricks mesmerizing? Do they think people enjoy being trapped inside simplistic animated intros and menus that only kinda-sorta work?
Or do they think at all?
It's this barrage of cr*p that gives Flash a bad name. Until the proliferation of mediocrity is not status quo, you'll find me hanging out at National Geographic's site, or something like it.
If I am involved with the design of a web site whose target group is young, technically savvy and esthetically demanding, I will think of having a flash navigation.
Exactly. Don't make your 401k planning or social security benefits site flash-only! I plan on implementing a flash logo and navigation on my site, but it is aimed at 20-to-30-something web designers. The key is to provide everything that is in Flash in html, and make every flash action take you to a new static html page. I wouldn't even think of adding flash, but the vector graphics look coupled with exact font control make it extremely appealing for navigation. I am sure the same people who would are adamant about a Flash nav / html failsafe nav were also condemning the graphical nav buttons replacing text-only links. In both instances, it falls on the designer's shoulders to make it functional and easy-to-use...
(side note: I was supposed to have my site done months ago, so I don't think I'll get around to implementing Flash anything until FlashMX2...) ;)
Flash is streaming content and will work on a 14.4 modem
If you have an entire navigation system in Flash, the fact that it streams doesn't help: I want the navigation to work as quickly as possible, not bits at a time.
I've seen some wonderful Flash animations, some of which do use streaming technology. But they used Flash the way it was designed to be used: vectored graphics and animations, perhaps with some interactive elements, not a fundamental part of the site's navigation but content -- and entertainment at that.
The quickest way to lose my custom is to have me staring at a "Please wait" page for more than about 15 seconds.
The idea of using Flash for animated company logos is at least a more appropriate use for it, but still leaves me cold; mainly because animation is a pretty tacky thing anyway. Most of the arguments against the use of animated GIFs -- increased bandwidth, draws attention away from the content etc -- apply equally to Flash animations, even if Flash animations are usually more elegant.
I understand that for certain kinds of site -- gaming sites, experimental sites, arty sites etc -- Flash may be entirely appropriate. Other than that, use it for entertainment, games (I have a link to a particularly addictive 3D version of Pong if anyone's interested), interactive road-maps, learning tutorials (say, for example, certain pages on a site called something like ScienceForKids), that kind of thing.
OK, OK, they may change their minds once you, as a responsible webmaster, have told them about the various negatives.... but the initial reaction from the lay customer is pro-Flash (as it is pro-animated gifs and pro-java applets). And if you are going in with the CSS design and your rival with the Flash?
Flash is easy to use and abuse, yes, but it is also possible to build things of efficiency and beauty with it. I recently saw a hotel reservations scheme (not sure if I'm allowed to post URL but it's a link from Colin Moock's article on O'Reilly) which I thought was a wonderful use of Flash with a database - and which I would be interested to see any other development tool match in looks and usability...
We don't swear off using .gifs because we see twirly email signs all over the web - we just don't copy them. We don't stop using email because of spam - we just don't send it ourselves. It's the same with Flash - I'm unsure where this "throw the baby out with the bathwater" prejudice comes from...
AND watch for the size of your flash. Big files are ok if the user is warned that he might wait for a time, i.e. NOT on the home page.
AND don't use it if an animated GIF would also do the job with a minimal difference in file size.