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Thread: ranting about design

  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    okay, i've been on fk since like january... for some reason i keep forgetting my username/password, i've probally set up about 40 accounts by now. I'm going to try and remember this one though

    Rant Topic: Is flash the doom of design?

    I see flash as a great tool to make streaming multimedia on the web at a compressed size. Something totally unheard of until it was created.

    That's all fine and dandy, but when did this simple application spell the end for all that is holy in fundamental design?

    Take this completly fictional situation:

    The page loads (after 20 minutes on a T1)
    40pt blue font morphs into midget green elves that dance off the screen while bright yellow 3d orbs zoom into frame. Each orb takes you to a different part of the web but not a single one is labled. Meanwhile one of the most hard core techno beats is BOOM BOOM BOOMING out my speakers like i'm suddenly at 1st ave in downtown minneapolis. Each time you mouse over a button the entire screen spits out a rainbow of unrelated font types. Cliches like "ARE YOU READY FOR THE FUTURE OF WEB DESIGN", "PREPARE TO ENTER A NEW ERA OF THE INTERNET", and "WE ARE HERE TO SHOW YOU THE NEW GENERATION OF FLASH" churn across the screen like a marketing brainstorm gone bad... real bad.

    WHAT HAPPENED?

    I see great... and I mean GREAT web sites with NO NAV STRUCTURE. All that is left of what used to be the most important part of design is a series of itty bitty squares packed into the top right corner of the design.

    In the begining a nav structure was key to design. People HAVE to know whats going on, people aren't going to take the time to read a 15 page instruction manual on how to navagate through designer_x6142's web site (lets see, i just dragged the talking armadillio into its home, now i have to wait for it to come back out and then I knock it out with this cell phone image and I should be at the contact us screen).

    Graphicaly many of these sites are things I've never even dreamed of, they are so eye pleasing it is increddible. But being a graphic designer is not just making pretty pictures. That's the smallest part.

    If I made a cook book and decided: Hey, using a table of contents is so played out, and so is naming the type of food. So I'm going to change all of that. Each main section will have an icon, no text or anything, just an icon. For soup you see a bowl of soup, it wont say soup (and it may look like a bowl of ice cream, or a bowl of fruit depending on how you look at it). Furthermore, instead of calling a sub section of soup, tomato soup, it will be that same icon, except red.

    Okay, if i did this Martha Stewart would hang me with the glitter saturated doiley she made out of spare bed sheets in episode #268.

    When did this happen?

    Being a good designer is knowing when to use something, and when to bury it in the back yard where no-one will ever find it again. For example:

    #1 A text box that you can move around... that's cool... erhm... ok, so it moves.

    #2 A flock of sea gulls that follow your mouse pointer wherever it goes. Hey dont get me wrong, i'm rather fond of sea gulls, but what purpose does it serve in the overall scheme of the web page.

    I love creative methods of designing. But creative is where you look at something and say "hey, i've never seen that before". And the first flash sites were like that. Now those creative endevors have spawned a multitude of sites similar in respects, but lacking the core of design.

    [end rant]

    I hope i'm not offending anyone. I'm the first to admit that I am not a great designer. I'm sure some of you probally woudn't call me a good designer. But I've read, painted, conte crayoned, and animated enough to know bad design fundamentals.

    thanks for your time

    any fellow fk'ers that thinnk i'm full of it tell me so. I welcome all opinions in this matter.

    mc

  2. #2
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    You make some very good points. And I agree with your priorities in web design. Navigation is key. Users want to access the information they want fast.

    Flash is not a bad thing. It's just underdeveloped. It will elvolve into something better than what it is now. What is it like 4 years old? Think of any other artform/skill/ whatever-you-want-to-call-it and tell me how it was doing when it was 4 years old. How about film/movies? Photography?

    And I've seen sites that actually do this kind of stuff.


    Madclone wrote:

    The page loads (after 20 minutes on a T1)
    40pt blue font morphs into midget green elves that dance off the screen while bright yellow 3d orbs zoom into frame. Each orb takes you to a different part of the web but not a single one is labled. Meanwhile one of the most hard core techno beats is BOOM BOOM BOOMING out my speakers like i'm suddenly at 1st ave in downtown minneapolis. Each time you mouse over a button the entire screen spits out a rainbow of unrelated font types. Cliches like "ARE YOU READY FOR THE FUTURE OF WEB DESIGN", "PREPARE TO ENTER A NEW ERA OF THE INTERNET", and "WE ARE HERE TO SHOW YOU THE NEW GENERATION OF FLASH" churn across the screen like a marketing brainstorm gone bad... real bad.


    I can't stand 'em. Stop the madness!!!

  3. #3
    i had an arguement w/my boyfriend the other nite...he is a hardcore programming/computerbrained person and is all for the informative low-tech sites where information of any kind is number one priority and design is there only to help people access it quicker...for him flash is a nice toy but since it does take some (significant) time to load and so many pages lack any kind of data (like mine ...but its only cause its not finished ..honest ^-^) he is generally opposed to it
    so now the point of this little story was do you think that the web is being divided into 2 parts: informative and art?
    and is flash the tool to use primarily for art websites?
    btw by art i mean sites that contain works of digital art, flash art, etc.

  4. #4
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    The Key to your Rant was the words "streaming multimedia on the web at a compressed size". The problem with most Flash designers - is that we cannot design a site to stream over the internet - myself included. But we are getting better and evolving. When I first came to this board, a mere 5 months ago, peeps were crazy about preloaders and the average size of a preload on a site was around 200K.

    Now, five months on, the number of preloader questions has diminished significantly and the average preload size I generally see is less than 100K! Peeps are learning and getting better!

    The main thing that I have learned is that some sites are screaming for motion graphics, but the internet is not completely ready for them yet because no matter what you do with them, they are going to be huge and peeps are still dialing in! My site is a prime example of that...and my progression is also. My Flash site (actually my wifes) has 21 book covers that NEED to be displayed - lots of overhead - even with compression. I started out with a preload of 187K, reduced it over time and learning to 108K, and currently it is at 65K. But, the site is still quite large and dialups can dog on it. So I finally added a non-flash option. It was the only way. Now, two years from now, it will be different.

    We need to keep evolving our skills to use Flash content wisely and make it stream where possible. That is what Flash was made for, but it is really really hard to do.

  5. #5
    FK Catwoman Aria's Avatar
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    Originally posted by GreatGooglyWoogly
    [B
    We need to keep evolving our skills to use Flash content wisely and make it stream where possible. That is what Flash was made for, but it is really really hard to do. [/B]
    this is the most important thing I feel - Flash is a tool and it really depends on how we use it. By developing new skills and that's why I feel that the Flash community is so important and essential in the development and progression of the use of Flash ..

    As Erik Jordan has said :' it is a cohesive network of designers and developers who inspire and challenge one another to take the technology further'

    A

  6. #6
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    web design

    madclone - i think you bring up interesting points about design and how it should be used. as designers, our job is firstly to communicate what needs to be communicated. if someone uses makes a site thats annoying or too diffucult to navigate through, they have not done their job correctly. if they used flash to make this gawdawful site, it's not flash's
    fault - its the designer's. the days of navigation, and interface being the most important thing are still here!!!
    even in print, a designer's job is not just to make things pretty. but more so in web design, a designer has to consider function and interaction. it's not flash thats underdeveloped, it's the designers. doing something "just because" is a dumb reason. i agree that its time to see some new interesting sites. most flash sites are starting to look like - well, flash sites. but we need to be using the program(s) to do what WE want to do, and not let the program dictate how we're gonna do it. to me, thats what brings intelligent innovation.

    so dont blame the software. it only does what we tell it to.


  7. #7
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    I think moderation is the key

    You are right ~ I feel a little of anything in moderation is the key. A site that is nothing but SWF and is designed just for looks, rather than good navigation, can certainly have a negative result. Just my opinion.....

  8. #8
    acQuired brAin
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    Hi,
    I think there is a lot of sites out there that you speak about that will never make it. The reasons for this are primarly what you stated. They have forgotten the key elements of form and function or never understood them in the first place. It seems to be a "flash designer" all you need is a computer that is capable of downloading the product. However in the long run I think it is a matter of survival of the fittest with the cream rising to the top and those that don't stick to the basics and develop an understanding of information by communication will be left wondering why their business failed.(even if they did promise us a new era in web design...maybe in the future they will see the new error in web design).

  9. #9
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    I applaud your anger at the present state of Flash on the web. It is a sorry thing when users are forced to sit through a 200k preloader that has no drive or purpose on a site, then helplessly wade through someone's idea of a web site. those little boxes suck, and the only people that can ever use them to navigate are either designers themselves, or have been shown how to navigate by a designer.

    but that reflects only on the lack of ability of the designer and their intent.

    to hate guitars because you've only heard novices poorly imitate stairway to heaven would be an unfortunate decision. and how long was it before a saxophone found it's way into coltrane's hand and finally achieved it's potential? so we are forced now to wait for Flash to meet it's capability in the hands of a developer we have not yet seen.

    but it will happen soon.

  10. #10
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    There will always be bad flash sites, as well as bad html only sites. This concept does not only apply to web design, but to almost every aspect of life. We have all purchased that bad pair of shoes, or ate something nasty at the local deli. A smart consumer learns, and does not repeat the same mistake. The same principals apply to design. Designers that keep their designs functional are the ones that will last.

    It is also important to remember that most of what we see on FK are experiments. That's part of what this type of community is for. Many of the sites posted here are done by novice designers for learning purposes. To expect perfection would be like going to a 3rd grade concert and expecting perfect execution of Mozart, its not realistic. FK is the perfect environment to offer advice, and shape the new internet. Act globally, spend some time in site check, critisize, offer pointers. The designers that are in FK today, will be, or already are the designers that will decide what the web will be like in the coming years.

    Let's face it, none of us created a revolutionary, quick loading, easy to navigate, under 50k, Flash site on the first try. The key is to use Flash as the powerful tool it is to create dynamic, explosive, creative, and most importantly FUNCTIONAL sites.

    madclone, loved your "completly fictional situation".


  11. #11
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    Originally posted by scottyjay
    A smart consumer learns, and does not repeat the same mistake. The same principals apply to design. Designers that keep their designs functional are the ones that will last.
    true, true.

    sadly enought it mostly are not the customers that pay us
    for the work, and it are not the customers who decide which
    concept of a webpage finally will be chosen.

    especially in the design buisness, far to often the bosses
    of the companys we're working for decide about the design
    aspect. some of them will listen (since WE are those who
    learned what communication design is about), but more often
    they'll override our suggestions.

    even more it ain't a problem about the size of neither the
    company or the price they're willing to pay for it.

    i worked for very big and popular companies, as i did for
    smaller ones. this problem crops up everywhere.

    often the only thing we're left with is to minimze the
    damage on design and usability (which depends on the
    design) cause by decision of people who know how to get and
    keep a buisness running but know nothing about design or
    brandmarking.

    those are mistakes that are and will be done again and again
    and only if our customers begin to see the value of a
    clear and well thought-through concept, it is up to us to
    make our job. in most cases this is when a webpage doesn't
    have success...

    i don't want to complain, though.

    after all it's one of the most wonderful jobs on earth.

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