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Weblog Entry

Reconciling Flash

June 17, 2003

Mike Pick posted an article about Flash today that reflects my thinking on the subject rather well. Flash isn’t 99% bad, but it sure ain’t 99% good either.

As a designer I’m supposed to be awed by great Flash work, and thrilled at incricately detailed interfaces that invite me to explore. And from time to time I am. But I can’t be bothered to browse PixelSurgeon or SurfStation day in and day out to keep up with the latest design work, because it all starts blending in together. You can only see the same transitional effect or same illustration style used on so many sites before its common–place.

The goal of ‘experience design’ is flawed. When I’m on the web, I am generally looking for information. I don’t browse for the sake of browsing, and that’s unfortunately what those aiming to provide an experience expect me to do. It’s funny: I’m a visual person, and I know great illustration, photography, and animation enhances content. But when used as an end result? I just don’t get as much out of it.

They say content is king. There might just be something to that.


Reader Comments

1
Bob says:
June 17, 07h

I’ve been thinking the same thing a lot lately; you simply put it to words in a much more eloquent fashion than I ever could. Thank you.

2
Will says:
June 17, 07h

I second Bob’s comment.

I’m just starting out as a web designer and I know clients are going to ask me for big ugly flashsturbation - now I have a better grasp of how to steer them in a better direction.

3
Dave S. says:
June 17, 08h

I should probably just get this out of the way now: obviously illustration and photography and animation are content in and of themselves. That point isn’t in dispute. I’m just saying the goal of a site has to be, to me anyway, more than just visuals.

And to further my point of view, when I go to a site where I’m actually looking for something specific, I almost always select the ‘HTML’ version of a site over the Flash version. I know I’m not alone on that. Flash is the time-waster, HTML gets you to what you need. It’s a mindset caused in reaction to the countless sites that confirm the theory.

4
Bob says:
June 17, 08h

DS: “I’m just saying the goal of a site has to be, to me anyway, more than just visuals.”

Amen.

WP: “I know clients are going to ask me for big ugly flashsturbation…”

Hahaha! Great term for that.

I’m a contributing member (in that I did all the setup and currently moderate) of a local designer’s mailing list/message board, and by and large, the group is made up entirely of Flash gurus. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but they are, like so many others in that category, awed and wowed by the purely visual Flash site, where the text is eight points too small and the blue 45-degree arrow is king. I’m like you, Dave, I can only take so much of that.

5
Paul S. says:
June 17, 08h

Content will forever be king on the net because we derive our entertainment from other forms of media. When we do want entertainment on the net we go to games sites or sites that have some cool flash movies. When we just want to get some information we want to go to the site that gets us the information we want fast. Flash sites very rarely serve this purpose. I cannot recall a time I needed some information and went to a flash-based site.

My boss wants me to make our corporate site flash-based so that there are “cool moving thingies” on the screen. I think these kind of people are more into the fact that they want something cool for themselves to look at instead of something useful for the user.

Flash does have its place on the web just as much as souped up “Fast and the Furious” type cars have their place on the streets.

6
Mike says:
June 18, 01h

That CBC3 site is nice.

There’s a place for Flash, for sure - I think Dave feels more strongly anti about it than I do. What I was trying to get at is that maybe its time for some new thinking about it - too many designers seem to default to Flash without considering other media.

The whole article came from an overdose of Newstoday, I think. People there seem to consider only Flash sites to be noteworthy, and most everyone’s portfolio is Flash-based - it just gets tiresome, and in the end isn’t as effective as an HTML portfolio might be in alot of cases. Why would a photographer need Flash?

As for design vs. coding - a web designer isn’t a good web designer unless you understand the nuts and bolts to a certain degree. I would argue that for any design-oriented profession - an industrial designer must understand materials, a fashion designer must understand fabric, and a print designer must understand the printing process. I like to say that you should forget the process for conception and remeber it for execution.

7
Keith says:
June 18, 01h

While I agree with most of the sentiments posted here I have two or three points:

First, Flash is a tool that has it’s uses. It’s often used incorrectly, there is no doubt, however it can be very useful and I would assert that knowing Flash is a very good thing. Clients and employeers will expect it, whether that is a good thing or not….? It would be nice to work for folks who “get it” but often that isn’t possible and well, in lots of cases some work is better than no work.

Knowing how and when to use it is even better. I added a small flash piece to my current freelance site (up soon) with the thinking that while it doesn’t add any huge value, it shows potential clients that, yes, I can “do” Flash. But would I do that whole site in Flash…no way.

Second, something that has been on my mind and hasn’t been touched on here (unless I missed it) is the use of Flash in building RIAs or stand alone applications. I see quite a bit of power there. When I worked for Connexion we did almost everything in Flash, but then again, we weren’t building “Web sites” as such. So it really depends on the goals laid out for a project. I would agree that Flash is usually not the appropriate tool for informational sites. I say usually because on the Web it seems there is always an exception to every rule.

8
June 18, 01h

Well, I see eye to eye with you all.
I used to work for an agency, which sold more and more flash sites. It’s like wiping everybody’s eyes. Looks pretty cool the first time, but is enerving more and more, each time you revisit. Furthermore, they were all inaccessible and had nothing to say. They were not updated, because updating flashsites is a mess when not constructed properly.
I think Flashdesign faces the same problem than we did some years ago. A lot of good designers I know are mastering Flash, but they don’t have a clue of Actionscript or displaying db-content in Flash, and alot of programmers have little ideas about Flash or Actionscript.

Paul said: I think these kind of people are more into the fact that they want something cool for themselves to look at instead of something useful for the user.

And that’s just what it is.
Last but not least, we (may I say we?) got the standards, while actionscript changed it syntax heavily the last couple of versions. What will happen to the next version??

Personally I think, Flash is a playground for the pixel-oriented former print-designer that has great difficulties taking the leap in order to create liquid designs for a flexible medium (Cite: I don’t mind the fontsize You don’t have to read it cause hey, it’s good-looking!).

The end of the ‘personal’ story? The standards guy (me!) got his pink-slip.
And with some time passing by since then, I must say, I am happy about that!

9
Chris M. Cooper says:
June 18, 02h

Without Flash, Homestarrunner would not be possible, and it has become such an important part of my pitiful life that I cannot imagine it’s nonexistence.

But I agree with Dave. I’m constantly trying to tell my fellow design students that Flash is not appropriate for content based sites, but it seems that even the designers are only interested in the eye candy sometimes.

10
Lea says:
June 18, 02h

I think the main problem is that people keep confusing DESIGN with FINE ART. The biggest difference being that design has an intended audience and intended purpose with an intended reaction (fine art isn’t confined to such restrictions) and some designers tend to design only for themselves when it’s inappropriate. When design IS fine art, that should be left up to personal websites and personal projects. Anything else should be geared to your client’s goal.

And yeah, where would the world be without Strong Bad emails??? A sadder place, that I tell you.

11
Dave S. says:
June 18, 02h

Oh yeah… I forgot about the weekly Strong Bad e-mails. Okay, so there IS one site that’s entirely Flash-based that I visit on a regular basis.

I like this discussion. You’re all bringing up great points. Who knows, maybe I’m just on a CSS high, and I’ll turn around in 3 months and pump out some new Flash work. I never did make it through that advanced ActionScript book I have on my desk.

12
Sander says:
June 18, 05h

Content is the king. However an experience on itself is content too. An Image can say more than 1000 words, an animation are 25 images a second. Each to it’s own is the phrase you’re looking for. Too much people see Flash as an online version of Powerpoint, which shows Flash is not the tool for ordinary text based presentations. However the ability to combine user interaction, intelligent behaviour, soundscapes, music, video with non-linear storyline alone shows that it’s a complicated medium as well.

As we only now start to realise the potential of a old hypertext language called (x)html and there is still no complete support from any browser, it’s similarly also impossible to bash Flash for being an animated playground. It’s used for TV ads and cartoon for it’s animation capabilities, but much more is possible and it will probable take another 6 years before people are enough familiar to make unique things with it. When Macromedia takes flash to the desktop this will add another dimension etc.

Each to it’s own, the experience of ZenGarden would make no sense to Flash, and Cartoon transcripts on xhtml are not as enjoyable as the flash cartoon. (to use cartoon as example). So I don’t see why the obvious has to be stated time after time. Perhaps it’s just easier to misuse Flash, or it’s harder to grasp what it’s meant for (skip intro, loading, animated websites and other’ misuses’).

13
Ed says:
June 18, 06h

Well said… Flash does have its place, however.

At the government agency I work at, we use Flash to publish presentations on the web that are done internally in Powerpoint. The reception this has received from the public has been very positive. We are also in the process of developing several very slick interactive apps using Flash to provide dynamic graphing of our collected data.

Overall, though, Flash is misused far too often.

14
Lea says:
June 18, 08h

There’s a time and place for all things, and I believe Flash still has its place. Blaming a technology for the mistakes of human designers is a little harsh and misplaced.

And as a recent college graduate (I majored in Design & Digital Media), I can affirm Minz’s observation that Flash is used largely for wary Print designers trying to recreate their world digitally. In class, they pushed Dreamweaver and said that coding will be left to… well, the coders, and that designers will be left to design. Which I think is a dangerous mantra. I believe that designers SHOULD primarily design, but a working knowledge of some aspects in markup/coding (at least) and such is detremental in succeeding in the marketplace these days. Some people in my class dropped HTML all together in favour of Flash merely because it’s “simpler” or it looks cooler.

However, just because you and your colleagues share the same view about Flash doesn’t mean the rest of the population does – there are many many people quite content just clicking away to get some eye candy. I know I still do it occasionally to get inspiration before I tackle a design project.

Though, I agree that many of the Flash sites are starting to blur into one. In fact, I recently criticized Eyewake Studios of looking too similar to 2advanced Studios, and got a couple people raising their guards about it (I actually got contacted by Eyewake!) Although, in the end, I agreed that they are different, their styles are quite similar and perhaps it was just the cynical part of me who was tired of seeing the blinky transitions and sound effects that sound almost the same.

However, I think Flash, if used properly, is a powerful tool. But if people get too caught up on the flashiness (pun intended) and forget about the end user or purpose or content, then it’s all useless.

15
Chris says:
June 18, 08h

Flash is a tool that gets used badly A LOT! Sure it has it’s place, but the problem is it duplicates the “in your face” attitude of television advertising on the web. I’m sure companies who advertise on websites love Flash. No more limiting GIF animations. Now there’s full fluid motion.

For websites that have content, I agree, Flash bites. I hate not being able to search text, or copy and paste text from sites with flash. It does prevent theft from sites, and I think a lot of photogrpahers love it. Of course most people know how to use screen captures and if I want to steal your images, I can and will, Flash or not. I usually don’t want sound on websites and especially if I’m listening to MP3’s I don’t want to hear sound on sites. Rarely have I found a Flash site that I really like the navigation and find it faster or easy to use than an HTML site. For the most part I find Flash sites slow and irritating.

16
Dave S. says:
June 18, 09h

In class, they pushed Dreamweaver and said that coding will be left to… well, the coders

That’s a good reason why my recent post about designers being free of the burden of code may not have touched on the right points. I instinctively bristle up at the notion of clueless ‘media instructors’ setting people up for failure like that.

Designers need to be aware of their medium. Scott says it best: “I wouldn’t hire someone to design a city park unless they were experts in design AND plants.” I absolutely agree that a good foundation includes both design principles and study of the medium you choose to work in. Industrial design classes have special materials components where you learn the strengths and limitations of the material you choose to work with.

A good interactive media program will touch on code and, while they may not have time to explore it to the depth needed (what program ever does?) they will at least make students aware that there’s more out there that doesn’t fit on a Flash timeline.

17
MikeyC says:
June 18, 09h

Using Flash for animation, vector maps or online games is one thing (as the alternative technologies aren’t yet practical), using it to build navigational menus or, god forbid, entire sites is lunacy as it completely undermines the whole point of the www. But what do I know, I’m just a web designer, so lets hear what the MAN who invented the whole damn thing has to say:

“The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.”

→ Tim Berners-Lee

Now, while flash has quite a large installed base, its not nearly as universal as HTML- the language of the web - and while its made strides in terms of accessibility its still leaves too much power in the hands of the author. There is no reason why an author should be able to prevent a user from selecting and copying a line of text or turning off sound, or increasing text-size for readability. What’s great about HTML + CSS (user stylesheets) is that the user is in control - not the author.

Ol’ Tim said it best when he said:

“Web users ultimately want to get at data quickly and easily. They don’t care as much about attractive sites and pretty design.”

→ Tim Berners-Lee

Which I couldn’t agree more with.

18
Dave S. says:
June 18, 10h

…while flash has quite a large installed base, its not nearly as universal as HTML

I don’t know if that’s a valid argument these days. Flash penetration is pretty damn high — so much so that I’d hazard to say anyone building CSS-only sites is dealing with the same dwindling percentage of users who won’t see it properly.

I know, I know. CSS-based sites have accessible content without style, Flash doesn’t. For some, especially those making the decisions, a non-viewable style is about as much of a crime.

I’m with Tim, but only to a point. Users don’t care about attractive sites and pretty design, but that doesn’t mean they’re not important. A site with a good design is seen as a more authoritative or legitimate source of information than one without. Don’t bother arguing me on that one, you’ll lose ;)

19
Bob says:
June 18, 10h

In class, they pushed Dreamweaver and said that coding will be left to… well, the coders

This is getting a little off-topic, but when I was interviewing for jobs a couple of years ago, the interviewer at one local web design agency asked me if I’d rather code or design. Coming from a background where I’ve always had to do both, the question took me a little off-guard, so I asked for an explanation.

It was the first time I’d been introduced to the concept of a team of designers doing their work, then passing off the raw photoshop files to the coders, who did the splicing and dicing and coding around the graphics. The idea that I would have to (a) hand over my work to someone else to mess with (and potentially goof up), or (b) have to code around someone else’s design (that I potentially wouldn’t like) was something that I didn’t care very much for.

This was the point in the interview that I knew I didn’t want to work for them, but I forged ahead. “Why not give each designer complete ownership of the design, from start to finish? Design, code, test, and upload?”

“That’s not how we do it here. Would you rather code or design?”

To me, there’s no distinction. The code is part of the design. Whether splicing graphics into nested tables or positioning elements with CSS, the design relies on the code to be properly displayed to the browser. If you design the layout in Photoshop, you should still have a fundamental knowledge of how the code will display the layout.

Anyway, I’m not really going anywhere here, so I’ll end. Lea’s statement brought that whole episode to mind, and I felt compelled to share my story.

Next! :-)

20
Kris says:
June 18, 11h

Flash has it’s shortcomings and may always have substantial compromises built into it, but nobody can convince me that in 2003 CBC Radio 3 isn’t a fantastic implementation of an online magazine (a magazine with audio, no less), or that Macromedia’s Pet Market demo isn’t a highly compelling rethink of the awkward ecommerce experience.

Is content not King in these examples?

21
ss says:
June 18, 11h

For a developer site that I’m working on, we had a meeting with the outside firm who was doing the collateral to talk about how to integrate the print and web designs. When they suggested, “well, you could add a little Flash to the site,” I realized they knew nothing about the audience. Developers do NOT want to be dazzled by Flash when they’re looking for solution to their crashing app at 2am.

22
Dave S. says:
June 18, 11h

CBC3 rocks, and I’ve drooled over it from day one. I just rarely go back. A friend was sending me links every time a new issue came out; I shrugged.

I think my own problem with it is that Flash is halfway between the passiveness of text on a page - where the user decides what he or she sees next - and the active pandering of television where the broadcaster has full control. When I’m reading, I realize my brain is going to be taxed, but I can always stop at some point and come back in a bit. When I’m watching TV (something I don’t do anymore, which may also say something about my mindset) I turn my brain off and expect to be pandered to. It’s when there are elements of both that I start getting confused - I generally can’t pause a Flash animation, so it’s like TV in that respect. But I don’t get the full immersion of TV, so I can’t bring myself to committing to it.

23
Lea says:
June 18, 12h

Bob, that’s amazing ‘cause my current employer asked me pretty much the same question. Although, mine is a happier story because I am able to do pretty much all the markup and design (I’m their all-in-one Print & New Media Specialist…) but, as I like it, the backend is handled by the backend people who know ASP and SQL, and any other too-techy things can be handled by the same people. And he was pleased when out of the list of things he wanted me to do and asking me what I preferred, I said, “Design.”

It always will be my answer. :-)

24
beto says:
June 19, 01h

That’s great to hear. I spent many years getting a master’s degree at an arts school, so the visual design side of the web should be the thing that interests me, right? Well, yes - and no. Being a web developer myself for almost ten years, I have come to favor sites where content exists and is presented in a graceful, usable manner, rather than confusing, egotistical flashturbatory eye candy. I have tried my hand at Flash and have done several projects across the years, even featuring high end Actionscripting - only to discover I feel myself more comfortable and at ease using plain HTML and CSS to do design. Making changes in Flash is (for me) such a pain in the rear - not so with CSS. Which reminds me - I should dump the Flash blob that is my current site and replace it with something more, uh, practical… when there’s time :)

25
MikeyC says:
June 19, 03h

“I’m with Tim, but only to a point. “

Boo… Tim is the man… and don’t you forget it!

“Users don’t care about attractive sites and pretty design, but that doesn’t mean they’re not important.”

I agree as long as usability isn’t being sacrificed for the sake of attractiveness. For example, the trend seems to be to make hyperlinks look like anything but hyperlinks (i myself am kind of guilty of this on my site http://www.zeit.ca/ which makes me a bit of a hypocrite, but i’m still working on it … ;)) by either changing established color standards or removing the underline from links as well as making text too small to read because the designer thinks that tiny text fits the layout better.

“For some, especially those making the decisions, a non-viewable style is about as much of a crime.”

I hear ya, but that’s besides the point. What some idiot in a suit wants and what users would prefer aren’t necessarily the same thing. Control should be in the hands of the user. If you (not you personally) want total control get into print design and stop perverting the original intent of the web. Kill all the lawyers and then kill all the graphic designers. The world would be a much more accessible place ;)

26
Lea says:
June 19, 03h

Haze, I think you’re being rather harsh and uncalled for. Quite frankly, after a quick scan of the comments listed, only a few have listed references, and none of which were made in a pretentious manner, and most were because it pertained to a personal story or back-up of their claims. No one in these comments have claimed what you have said we are claiming.

I’m curious, what would you deem are “valid points” ? Ironically, whatever points they are, since it’s a form vs. function debate, they are also rather subjective/relative and thus, the validity of a statement is up to the interpreter. Which seems to negate your previous statement.

Although this debate is form vs. function, we are merely lamenting how people forget what the hell they’re making things for. They stop asking questions and just make assumptions.

So it may never be completely resolved, but through discussions such as this, one may able to have their personal convictions solidified or altered. Not debating merely because it seems “unanswerable” is a defeatist type of attitude. Only by having debates like these, although a definite answer may never be found, can people realise what they truly believe in.

27
Paul S. says:
June 19, 05h

As many of more of the intelligible comments have mentioned, flash sites have their use on the internet. And since Lea needs some example of what I am talking about the greatest example of flash used in the real corporate world would have to be Tiffany’s. They use flash to the point where they make the navigation invisible, which in my mind keeps the content at the forefront. The overuse of flash is like the overuse of animated gif’s back in the 90’s. Eventually, companies will begin to realize that their pretty websites that use 100k of flash to display a news article is not keeping the customers. The bad flash design agencies will get weeded out and harmony will once again rein supreme on the web.

28
Lea says:
June 19, 05h

Paul, why me in particular? : P I was one of the people who previously mentined that Flash sites do have their use on the internet! Silly. ; )

29
June 19, 07h

Hi Dave. My thoughts got real long real fast, so they can be found here. Do you support trackback, by the way?

30
Chris M. Cooper says:
June 19, 10h

I’m in shock over here that some of you enjoy Strong Bad emails. What was the discussion about again?

Trogdor strikes again.

31
CHris says:
June 20, 02h

I think that there is a fairly significant area of Flash development that is being overlooked here, and in Pick’s article. Flash’s capability for delivering application like interactions, along with it’s ever improving back end communication capabilities make it an exceptional tool for releasing applications on the web. Back in 2002 I wrote an article about Flash’s potential called Running from Bears, and why I felt that web applications are well suited for Flash’s capabilities. You can read it here: http://www.flazoom.com/news/running1_11202002.shtml

Recently I’ve been seing a lot of ROI data for Flash applications on both the Internet and on Intranet’s for a number of large corporations. Once this ROI data gets up to the assorted bean counters at various web agencies and web businesses I think we will see a huge growth in Flash application deployment on the web. I just hope it can be done without sound tracks.

32
Dave S. says:
June 20, 07h

Good point, Chris. As I replied to your latest post, Macromedia’s recent forays into application development are interesting, to say the least. I haven’t used the latest authoring tools, so I can’t say I understand how they’re going about it. But it’ll be interesting to see the mindset shift from multimedia to task-based .swf-ing.

33
Jai says:
June 20, 11h

Dave, I just linked over here from Ken’s site and decided to check it out. Wow, dude, you rock! This site has a sweet design. I’d be interested to have your thoughts on my site (and it’s multiple designs). Just a good professional critique would be ever so useful to me. I know I’m not the best, but I certainly don’t suck either.

Gimme some feedback, if you would be so kind, and maybe some pointers. I’m stubborn, so if you say anything bad I’ll most likely initially be insulted- but then I’ll come around and most likely agree with you and begin to move forward with your advice (I guess that’s the case with most designers who continue to grow).

Thanks!
Jai
http://www.jaiandbecky.com/

34
Lea says:
June 20, 11h

I just thought of something – isn’t Macromedia’s recent revamp a prime example that good ol’ HTML and CSS is still the way to go if you’re content-rich and Flash to be used as small interactive pieces throughout? Remember how the initial launch had an all-Flash navigation and all-Flash elements (thinking that by doing so, it would prove the power of Flash) And in the end, their development team was forced to step down their all-Flash efforts because it was becoming cumbersome, slow, and unuseful?

35
Jai says:
June 20, 12h

Did Macromedia change their site? Because I stopped going there as soon as they made it all Flash. I’m all for Flash, but that site used to be spectacular for getting information and Macromedia plugins and now it just plain sucks! It takes forever to load! I think if it was quick I wouldn’t mind it so much, but it’s extremely slow. I think it’s a detriment to what Flash can (and.or should) do rather than a compliment! They oughta go back to what they had before. I used to regular the site, now I avoid it like the plauge!
<!–begin tangent here–>
… well I haven’t actually been avoiding plauges… except maybe SARS… but I couldn’t afford to go to China anyway… )
<!–end tangent here–>

“…Trogdor was a man… or um.. he was a DRAGON man… er well maybe he was just a Dragon, but he was still TROGDOOOOOOOOOR!…” - Strong Bad

36
Dave S. says:
June 23, 01h

Not that it’s really necessary, but here’s a case in point on a minor quibble:

http://www.ertdfgcvb.ch/ - it’s actually Shockwave, but stay with me here. Go into the site, work your way to the menu, and start playing. These are cool!

So when I want to link ‘Parisienne’ or ‘the Rocket’ for example, and tell you those are great, I can’t because they’re buried within the interface. No URL to grab, so no link. Sure, in the end, you can get to them. But wouldn’t it have been easier if I’d been able to just link you directly to the experiments I was talking about?

37
June 23, 09h

As Chris points out, it is not that flash is taking over as a presentation medium for strictly content based sites – an area where smart, econo, HTML and CSS reign supreme – but it is taking a big role in providing online front ends to web applications.

The single most significant deficiency of HTML and CSS as application front-end is that it is difficult, often impossible, to update items onscreen in a manner similar to what users are familiar with via their use of desktop apps. Flash, increasingly, offers that. I have seen demos for this sort of functionality that exude considerable elegance.

What is interesting is that there are going to be fewer people that are solely designers moving into this space than one might think for the simple reason that programming is more complex and much more familiar to an OOP developer (Java, C++, etc.) than the designer/scripters that perhaps use flash in the greatest numbers. It’s mostly a matter of developers/designers (including meself) catching up with the tools at this point, plus finding clients/funding for striking out in less travelled directions (the web has become a tad conservative as of late).

Ultimately, I think it will be a very different flash than what comes to most people’s minds when they currently think “swf”. But, yeah, there will still be much eye candy, much of it gratuitous.

38
Dave S. says:
June 23, 10h

You know, something that occurs to me reading your summary Kris is that if Flash-based forms are a valid tool, it couldn’t possibly be that much of a challenge to build a system that controls HTML form elements with absolute CSS positioning. If you could drag-n-drop your forms and have the interface spit out xhtml/css instead of a .swf, the process should be just as easy as building a Flash form. That could eliminate the ease-of-building deficiency.

That’s just a surmise though. I’m not committed to either method of thinking, since I don’t know the advantages/disadvantages of Flash applications well enough. But it’s good food for thought, and possible exploration. Thanks!

39
June 24, 09h

I think you are on to something, however…

The whole shot with flash based forms is that you could do things like validate input with a back end data source and send conditional feedback to the user without changing screens. Or sorting a datagrid column on the fly much as you would in an OS style datagrid. Which is to say, you can potentially provide a richer experience that leverages user experiences painlessly. I would love to see technologies other than flash scratching at this itch.

Consider these two examples which, I think, accomplish simple things simply. Take the developer goggles off, forget about what tool was used and attack it the same way your Mom might and I think you’ll agree that it atleast hints at a “better way”:

The Broadmore Hotel
A classic done some time back in Flash 5

Clyde’s Online
An elegant example…. check out the shopping cart in particular.

The bottom line is that, at it’s best, it’s just classic usability… of the Jef Raskin/Tog type, less so the “links must be blue and underlined” Jakob Nielson type.

40
Dave S. says:
June 24, 09h

Both very well-built forms. I’ve done forms very similar to Broadmore using javascript objects and data pre-loading. Since most of it is text-based, the overhead isn’t really that large.

But Clyde’s - super sexy. I’d be a masochist to try to to duplicate that. Good example. A bit hard to use without a mouse, but I’m sure with a bit more attention to user testing that could be alleviated.