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Thread: Flash Usability: could you plz help me?

  1. #1
    War is futile: just drink beer phooka's Avatar
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    To follow with my "anti-nielsen series" I'd like to write stg in a more constructive manner...

    Nielsen accuses flash of not being usable, but of course he is a HTML addict so his oppinion refering to flash is worhtless...

    BUT: Would you like to help me by posting which guidelines (not LAWS! I've had enough of fundamentalist approach to web design! ) that you think a flash swf should follow to be usable? (Remember, from a flash paradigm not from an HTML paradigm)...

    My first one:
    1. A flash site should be coherent with itself
    (Meaning that it should keep certain logic when visiting all its sections)...

    Thx!

    (BTW I'll post the same article in Coffee Lounge 2 see if more ppl can help!)

    Regards,
    phooks

  2. #2
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    Good topic!

    I must qualify my response by stating first that much of the usability 'requirements' will depend upon what the ultimate audience and purpose of the site is to be.
    Considering, however, that most sites do have an underlying motive to convey information for business-related purposes, I'll make some comments.

    1.) Make it load fast. Over 75% of web users are on dial up. This is a significant percentage and if these folks aren't taken into consideration, your client will not be reaching most of their prospective target.

    2.) A continuation of Phooka's guideline would be to have coherent navigation. It doesn't have to be boring or unimaginative. However, it should help the user find what they are looking for or ensure that they are shown what the client wishes them to see. An interesting statistic that I read recently stated that 60% of users leave a site because they couldn't find what they were looking for. This is not to say that what they were looking for wasn't there - just that it was too difficult to find.

    3.) Pointless animation should be avoided. A pointless Flash animation is just as annoying as a pointless animated GIF. This isn't to say that all animations are pointless. Ask yourself if an animation reinforces your message or makes it more difficult for the user to see your message. (I'm not sure that this really is a pure 'usability' issue.)

    4.) One point that Nielsen makes (incorrectly, btw) is that Flash does not permit the active link and visited link indicators that many web users are accustomed to. Actually, these navigation aids are easily made in Flash. They're just not as native to the program as they are with HTML. Check out our Flash version to see an active / visited link display in Flash.

    5.) Another semi-valid point that Nielsen makes regards searchability and Flash. While it is true that text in a SWF is not searchable or discovered by search engines, this can be dealt with by the use of comments in the meta tags of the site and by a carefully constructed splash page. If the text that you are using in your movie is something that you feel a user may want to copy, you can opt for using selectable html text in Flash 5.

    I could go on and on... I'll spare you any more of my pontification, though.

  3. #3
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    Hi! I agree with all the above and if I may add: I find the best sites are usually hybrids (Flash movies here and there inside and HTML based site). Too much text in Flash not only makes the file size heavy, "unsearchable" and uncomfortable, but if the movie is scalable, some lower res screen owners may not be able to read it.

  4. #4
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    Hi! I also agree with all the above and I am happy to have the topic discussed here. I'd like to add the following:

    1. The usability of flash depends on the traget-group you're defining as core-users. That depends on the content of the site. If I adress designers and design-interested persons with my site (and even kids) I get stuck with HTML very fast > many people are bored looking at HTML pages. So we come to a discussion that's kind like the discussion between science-literature and fiction. (and there's more money earned with fiction I guess!)

    2. There is high expression-potential and -value connected with the use of flash that even can leave language-borders behind and leads more easily to an world-wide-web culture than language based HTML.

    (3. Good things are always declared as not useful by conservative groups and stats at the beginning. so why bother?)

    .tobi.

  5. #5
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    I would like to add (I'm not sure if it could be taken as a guideline or not) is that a Flash site is not cross-browser dependant but rather plug-in dependant.

    As oppose to HTML, where different browsers on different platforms will render tables and forms differently, a flash site will generally stay the same throughout, as long as the plug-in version does not differ. I've seen movies look and perform differently when viewed using different versions of the plug-in (I still keep a Flash plug-in ver4 to test my movies) where actionscripting is concerned.

    hmmm... so I guess my addition to the guideline is,
    A Flash movie that contains actionscript should be tested on as many popular versions of the Flash plug-in as possible to ensure compatibility and functionality. (I stick to v4 and v5 mainly because I can't get my hands on a v3 plug-in nor do I plan to install one)



  6. #6
    Pessimistic ebullience evan224's Avatar
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    Angry

    But then, we are all a bit biased, aren't we?

    E.

  7. #7
    War is futile: just drink beer phooka's Avatar
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    Originally posted by evan224
    But then, we are all a bit biased, aren't we?

    E.
    Absolutely! But then, who isn't? There is nothing like objectivity in this world!

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