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Thread: The deal with Flash.

  1. #1
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    Just have to air this one out, because it's something I've been thinking about a lot since I've decided to remake my own portfolio in Flash. I've been doing designs since 5 years back, totally self-taught as well...

    Anyway. I've been working a lot with DHTML for a while as well. Even though you can create neat interfaces and animation with DHTML they are still far from perfect, and you probably will want to use a DOM compilant browser, meaning that NS 4.x is out the window as well as most other browser than IE and NS 6.

    The main thing with Flash though is that you have the freedom and ability to integrate animation and sound with vector based graphics and you can even scale down bitmaps very effectively, creating amazing sites and interfaces that takes very time to load.

    Also Flash is a master example of real preloading. Most JavaScript preloading scripts acctually doubles the loading time due to the slow animation and execution time.

    But still there are many, experienced Flash Authors who seem to forget these facts. The create stale and dull Interfaces in gray and white. They skip the music and keep themself with rigid soundeffects. They think it will look more serious and impressive if done in Flash.

    Baah, humbug. If you are supposed to use Flash, you should use it too! I have seen many sites that would look twice as good and impressive with DHTML or even regular HTML.

    What Flash Designers in general never take in accountance is that the user doesn't really care what technique is used as long as it loads fast and works for them.

    What I'm trying to say here is if Flash is so great, why not use it to it's limit? Or at least use it as it's meant to be used, not just as yet another drag n' drop website creator...

  2. #2
    Senior Member mg33's Avatar
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    Why not take Flash to it's limit?

    Easy answer: Too many Flash designers, and non-Flash designers (read "people who know nothing about it but are into it because it's cool") have completely bought in to the venom that Jakob Nielsen spits out about 99% of Flash sites being bad. So the people making the sites, who really have no idea about usability or art or anything else follow every word that is said about how pointless it is for a web site to have sound, or animation, or a loading feature, or complex graphics. True, you cannot abandon the fact that not everyone is fluent with all the latest aspects of the Internet out there, or fluent with every complex type of navigation out there. But if we're in a day where we also abandon the fact that there are a great number of people out there enjoy a challenge, and do actually have an ounce of patience enough in their body to wait for a 100K+ site to load over dial-up, then where exactly are we? In the middle, stuck, hanging on every word of someone who tries to get you to think yahoo.com is the perect model for every site you should do.

    Jakob Nielsen is a very smart and interesting person that everyone can learn something from. He's got quite a bit to offer to many people starting out in web design and development, especially in terms of providing people with an ideal structure of presenting information to a viewer, which, if you can figure it out, translates to avoiding trends "just because they're cool" and going beyond that hang-up to actually understand what viewer you're going after, and how they're different, and how the recieve information visually through a web site. However, a large degree of comments that have been made by him seem to have been done so with no regard for the fact that there are people out there with quite cutting-edge ideas flowing through their minds, who are not ready to accept that fact that someone seemingly always tries to convince them that all Internet users are idiots and we need to treat visual communication and the transfer of digital information in the form of a web-site as if the viewer is a mindless, impatient moron whose mind would self destruct if a site navigation wasn't labeled with text for them.

    In reading the browser issue of Create@Online recently, Jakob Nielsen was interviewed along with others concerning Flash, and the state of the Internet. He is famous for saying, "99% of Flash is bad," and in this recent interview, he says, in so many words, "I'm really hoping some time in the next year I can say 98% of the Flash out there is really bad."

    The intention of that ill-placed, sorry attempt at witt so seriously undermines so many of the talented designers, web developers, and motion graphics people out there, its' just unreal. I couldn't sleep at night if I were responsible for chastising 99% of the the people in this industry.

    Does that answer your question?
    Also, I hope you're looking at the right sites. While I doubt anyone will ever do 100% of the things possible with Flash, there's alot of really incredible stuff going on out there. I'd say the best stuff that is going on is the stuff that doesn't reek of being Flash, rather, it's the stuff that's combining XML, databases, dynamic applications, and Flash front-ends. The stuff that looks like everything else almost, but is impressive to those who know what it took to figure out how to do it in Flash. That's what pushing Flash as a medium right now, that's what people are excited about-not so much the things I listed, but the aspects of it that allow people to be creative, artistic, cutting-edge, innovative, and exciting.
    It goes to show that, yes, people are listening to those who are offering decent advice on viewer interaction with a web site, yet they're not going to sit back and assume that everyone's brain is full of crap. It's people like that who dismiss the naysayers, no matter how prevelent their comments and thoughts are, and focus on bringing the viewer along, getting them used to how quickly things evolve.
    Who would you side with?

    Take Care,

    mg33

  3. #3
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    pheew. Huge reply

    I'm surprised Nielsen took a part in this. Especially since I've read some of his theories and beleive them to be dead wrong. Or at least over-radical. His ideas of user-friendliness is pretty basic but overdone. And he does not only assume users to be totally daft but other designers too.

    I showed one of my Flash Sites for a friend a couple of months back. I thought it was a bit overdone. But he said:
    -Wow! Amazing! Didn't know you could do that ****!
    And this was about a pretty simple Flash Layout and navigation with cool little windows and a real "cyber" look. Still he went berserk over it.

    I guess what most designers and other people that are into the bussiness forget is the fact that users aren't dumb. Most users in fact are pretty smart. And even then the challenge of a good navigation isn't to make users feel dumb, but to bring out the smartness within them.

    Many designs I've seen here missed out on the fact that your users might just want to see these pumping intros, hot animations and DNA-style navigations. Of course presented in a neat way so that it is not totally impossible to use.

    And being a modem user myself I always draw the limit at 500K+ regarding there is a little preloader or game to keep me entertained while I wait. Some sites are acctually worth waiting for.

  4. #4
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    Brainiac, the numbers of people with 56k modems or slower are still dazzling. Barely anyone has broadband. Mainstream humanity hasn't even become too familiar with Flash, thus tryign to ascertain the value of them is almost inappropriate at this point. Wait 5 years, then, and only then, will broadband be more widespread. Trust me, the unintelligent user out there doesn't even know what Flash is yet. Once the unintelligent user learns about it, it's value will become much more apparent.

  5. #5
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    What we designers tend to forget is that most users don't give a flying f**k what technique you used to make your site work, they only want it to work...

    And as mentioned I am sitting on a 56k modem myself I know how utterly irritating heavy sites can be, but most of the time those 500 kb sites or up is worth waiting for. At least sometimes.

    WhatI would like to see more is that people uses the advantages of Flash instead of turning them down. Optimizing the file size to a minimum, but yet keeping the music, sound fx, 3D scripts and cool graphics. Offer the user a pumping, fierce intro. That's the advantage of Flash and I can't really see why people just keep cutting down on the effects instead of the other way...

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