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Thread: Flash: 99% Bad?

  1. #1
    Jakob Nielsen is talking about Flash:

    "In most cases, we would be better off if these multimedia objects were removed."

    http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20001029.html

    If the presence of Flash on a website constitutes a usability disease, how can we improve it????

    first IŽll see if its a relevant and interesting topic to discuss. then IŽll just throw myself into the discussion. I have a lot of stuff to talk about here hehe...

    Cheers!
    /Andreas

  2. #2
    Oh yeah! forgot to mention...

    I love Flash!

  3. #3
    Senior Member mg33's Avatar
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    Trust me, we've all read that and we all have our opinions on it.

    Search for the same thread title and you'll find some good discussions about that article.

    mg33

  4. #4
    New Wave Visionray's Avatar
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    Well, the only problem I see with Flash is that its not section 508 compatible. This is a requirement for all Federal Government websites. Thus, they can not use Flash, or they can use it but its extremely tedious to make it 508 compliant. Macromedia is scrambling around trying to solve this issue.

  5. #5
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    What is this 508 issue thing? Can you direct me to something about it?

  6. #6
    CapTy99.com Webmaster
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    what i think it is the internet not evolving or the webdesigners. were not evolving our minds to a new mindset and so flash is not evolving and somehow beating itself up w/ crap websites being made everywhere. if people can embrace it and use it correctly its a great tool but we have 2 think a little differently instead of presentation, more like ease of use or etc...

  7. #7
    War is futile: just drink beer phooka's Avatar
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    B4 this thread evolves into a "I love flash Jakob is a dope" thread, remember:

    1) This was written in October 2000, things have changed lots since. IE, there are less intros today.
    2) His approach always depends on a site to be "effective", "usable", and especially from purely economical/statistical points of view; that excludes experimental portfolios and the lot.
    3) Some of Jakob Nielsen's articles refering to Usability are wonderful, and he and his team have developed great issues in order to make better sites.

    So IMHO the main problem of this article is the name. It could been made in a positive manner, stg like "Tips to make flash more usable". But remember that gurus need controversy in order to subsist.

    Regards,
    david

  8. #8
    War is futile: just drink beer phooka's Avatar
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    Also

    Splash pages were an early sin of abusive Web design. Luckily, almost all professional websites have removed this usability barrier. However, we're now seeing the rise of Flash intros that have the same obnoxious effect: They delay users' ability to get what they came for. On the upside, most Flash intros feature a "skip intro" button. However, their very existence encourages design abuse in several ways.
    We must remember that Nielsen wrote this article when flash intros were "in". Today, most top sites despise intros and search new paths like streamed content. However, we might ask ourselves if Jakob is not making a gross generalization or a nonsensical assumption by deciding what is the user looking for. We must remember his bias towards text information while keeping visual info relegated to second term (by visiting http://www.useit.com we can detect but a few pics). However, the coolness of some intros make them valuable so that some users enter a site simply to watch that intro.

    Furthermore, well made intros are not stopping the download process but happen as a streamed experience. Keeping the multimedia content controlled, the time lost to download the main swf is minimal. To despise flash intros as "Design Abuse" is to despise multimedia content as valuable content.


    First, flash encourages gratuitous animation: Since we can make things move, why not make things move? Animation clearly has its place in online communication. However, as my 1995 guidelines discuss, that place is limited.
    This question could be asked in a pleyade of situations. If a car can crash, why not crash it? Or maybe more related to design: if using the keyboard can add useless textual content into a site, why not doing it? Every tool, since is created, every new technology, can be used or can be abused. Flash does not encourage gratuitous animation any more than HTML encourages gratuitous typing. Good flash designers will know the difference between animating in order to increase the value of a site or animating in an abusive manner.

  9. #9
    Modding with Class JabezStone's Avatar
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    Phooka, great replies.
    *quickly plagiarizes Phooka and submits to top design magazine*

    It is all about communicating to your audience the exact message you are trying to get accross, and doing it in the most productive manner.

    We should be evalutaing our designs on the basis of "Will adding this [fill in the blank] aid or hinder my message?"

    If "yes, it will hinder it", then throw it out. If "yes, it will aid it", then consider throwing it out! Dont' just use things for the sake of using them... use them in a way that benefits you and your audience the most.

  10. #10

    My intention!

    My intention with this thread was to discuss relevant changes in the design of flash sites that needs to be done to improve usability. Jakob is certainly not a dope, I read his bi-weekly column and even bought his book. Personally I think flash introduces a new way of thinking when developing websites. Yesterday, the interfaces focused on the problem solving process and not on the human being, today weŽre getting better at usability, and tomorrow, interfaces will (more than today) focus on creating a personality, show intelligence, and still understand the way human beings want to express themselves on the web. Flash can help us get there, but we need to use our own intelligence. There are a few good examples and many bad out there. Of course when you push the button in the elevator, and no light show up, youŽre asking yourself if you are moving. Even the basic principles of usability can be transferred into Flash. When designing in flash, youŽre up to the same problems as you would be if designing without Flash. People organize information in different ways. They have always done that and always will.

    Who says customer effective testing wont apply to Flash?
    Use it!! I would say its possible to work against tight deadlines with a Flash project (as well as any other project) and still benefit from customer testing. Ok, some Flash sites gets done and then nobody touches them anymore. But why not change the site after user feedback? Of course if you dont have any intention of changing the site, dont ask the users. So my advice to improve usability on Flash Web sites is as follows:

    Establish your own testing strategy. Test concepts, do prototyping, test for usability - give customers simple tasks and see how they solve the problems. Improve the site!!

    If we use Flash to break Web Fundamentals, then do it with intelligence and personality and most important: dont forget the end user.

    regards
    /Andreas


  11. #11
    New Wave Visionray's Avatar
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    Originally posted by jweaver
    What is this 508 issue thing? Can you direct me to something about it?
    Section 508 is part of the Americans with Disibilities Act. It stats that all government websites have to be accessible to people with dissibilities, mainly people who are blind. There is a new technology that allows the blind to view websites if text is written in the ALT tag of the HTML code. It literally reads the text to the blind person. With Flash, you cant insert ALT tags, basically because its not HTML. Thus, Flash isnt section 508 compatible. All Federal websites int he US have to make their sites compatible by the end of this month. If they dont, they can get sued by individuals. There are a tons of federal websites, so this is a big issue.

  12. #12
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    At the college I am transfering to this fall, they use Flash for the menu.

    http://www.okstate.edu

    I was a bit surprised too.

    Then they just have a html version link as well.


  13. #13
    ScratchingEverything

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    Hehe,

    Originally posted by zacvin
    At the college I am transfering to this fall, they use Flash for the menu.

    http://www.okstate.edu

    I was a bit surprised too.

    Then they just have a html version link as well.


    Thats pretty stupid ! Whats the benefit of it ?


  14. #14

    OK. STOP!

    note to self: I love flash.

    Look at all those ugly pages in HTML with bg that sucks!
    www has to move to something new like flash, but there are
    designers out there that don't know how to use it and they
    just say that the useability is bad. I would say their imagination is bad!

  15. #15
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    resolved Re: New Frontier

    I thought the web was the new frontier? Flash leaves the old school traditions and moves the whole thing a quantum leap ahead in terms of interactive quality.

    Sure there are a ton of poorly designed Flash sites but I'd argue there are even more butt-ugly html sites out there 508 compliant included! HTML was never entended to be a design/layout program it was simply to relay data between members of the scientific community, yet you have HTML lovers who see that their time of superiority of all things web related in design is now being handed back to the ones who should control it 'Designers'.

    The whole arguement of Flash being so easy that you have too many people developing ugly sites is the same argument designers use about the computer in general. Someone has a PC, clip art and some fonts and all of a sudden they are a 'Designer'. Many people know how to use the tools but lack the fundamental talent for good design.

    It is our obligation to counteract hack designers and produce well designed thought out websites the utilize the latest in tools ie Flash.


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