No Flash Please – I’d Like to Communicate

kinnon —  March 24, 2007 — 8 Comments

I took a couple of swipes at Flash sites in my Interesting Week post – and got a small amount of push back from Pernell Goodyear. (He’s forgiving me for my comment…perhaps not after this post, however.) So let me unpack my problem with Flash.

First, a story. Last fall I was in a meeting with some folk discussing a new website. The coder of the site loves Flash and really wanted it to be a part of the new site. I strongly disagreed. (Anyone shocked?) Because the site “wasn’t aimed at kids”, the coder granted me that I might know a little of what I spoke of, but “if the site was for kids, we’d need to build it in Flash – kids demand Flash.” I didn’t bother responding then (as this really wasn’t the time or place) but I will now.

What are the top three sites that Net-Gens visit today? Facebook, MySpace and Google. And the amount of Flash used? On Facebook, none, on MySpace, embedded Flash audio and video players and on Google, well, Google is just a search site, right!? Facebook and MySpace are about community building, sharing and communicating.

But what about Flash? As one wag put it, the most hit button on the web is “Skip Intro.” Flash isn’t communication, it’s interruption. Flash says “look at me, look at me.” It’s style over substance – and it largely gets in the way of communication – and certainly in the way of any type of collaboration.

One of the biggest problems with Flash sites is the inability to do an internal link.

EXAMPLES:
I’m intrigued by a church called The Journey. They are doing some great stuff in St. Louis. I’d love to give you a link to their Church Planting info. I can’t as it’s a Flash based site.. I can only give you a link to the site itself – you’ll have to navigate the Flash to find out what I’m talking about.

We love pizza in our family. We order online often from the Pizza Pizza site. And get to hit the Skip Intro button almost everytime (if I forget to use the bookmark for their online ordering – the site does have internal links). I’m absolutely confused by the need for the Flash opening. I’m at their site to either find their phone number (if you’re a Torontonian you have it memorized, trust me), to find a location or to order online. Why the heck do I need to be interrupted by their jingle and a stupid animation. Someone in marketing should check the stats on the skip intro buttons…there are two on the front page – AND LOSE THE FLASH.

Spiaggia‘s food is fabulous – their website is terrible. A pointless use of Flash that is more annoying than anything else. The site suggests that the restaurant owner is related to some budding Flash designer. “Sure Tony, you can build the site for me. Just remember, I need people to be able to find my phone number and our menu quickly.” “Tony” failed.

The site I dissed that Pernell reacted to is the site for the Evolving Church conference. Let me say that as Flash design goes…it’s definitely a Flash design. No internal links – Flash animation for the sake of Flash animation. Effective communication…I’ll let you be the judge. Feel free to tell me how wrong I am.

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kinnon

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A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

8 responses to No Flash Please – I’d Like to Communicate

  1. You are right, not wrong.

    I’ve been saying what you observe for a long time. And still the Flash keep coming.

    Does someone have a vested interested in doing Flash? Rather than advising clients on how to communicate?

    If you have to add a “skip intro” button, you should have “skipped it” in the first place.

    Keep creating… forgivable conversations,
    Mike

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  2. Bill – I’ll consider this an invitation to rant about virtual pet peeves.. Mine is uninvited audio.

    Sometimes an intensive Google search can open 20 or 30 tabs within a few moments. It’s frustrating when one (or more..) of those tabs pumps unrequested audio into my office, especially when I’m listening to a CD or talking on the phone.

    Quality website design does not force audio, especially in this era of mutli-tab browsing. A virtual on-off switch is good, but default should be OFF.

    There. I feel better.

    Reply
  3. Might I just add a hearty amen to that, John. And Michael, exactly!
    Back in the day of owning multiple edit suites, we had clients who loved to use our Ampex ADO to fly stuff around the screen – for no other reason than they could. As an editor who began cutting on only two machines, I hated Digital Effects boxes. But my accountant would tell you that the ADO was our best purchase. It made us a fortune – while creating awful commercials, videos and documentaries.
    Flash makes some “web designers” lots of cash – while diluting the web presence of their clients. But hey, what does an old guy like me really know.

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  4. The last example you cited didn’t seem that bad. For conferences and one-time event dealies, I think Flash is okay; in the case of the conference, everything you need is in that circle.
    But I agree, for websites that are long term and trying to get information to their readers, Flash is annoying.

    Reply
  5. I should note that the Evolving Church Conference was a smashing success, I should have been there and Darryl Dash did a fabulous job live blogging it. (See the post prior to this one.)

    I’m sure Nathan et al could tell us how they feel the site did for them – and whether the Flash site was a stumbling block for anyone. Jarrett perhaps makes a valid point regarding one-time events.

    I wouldn’t do it or recommend it – but who ever said I was always right (other than my mother…when I wasn’t disagreeing with her).

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  6. Hey Bill – I agree with you wholeheartedly. I was merely sticking up for my friend… and great web designer, Nathan Colquhoun.

    I agree with Jarrett also.

    In fact, I even hate static html websites… the entire reason our church site is a blog and has been for some time.

    Peace.

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  7. Not sure how this entry slipped by me, as I have a vested interest in things “flash”.

    I design websites for missionaries and churches using http://www.moonfruit.com. It is browser-based, flash driven technology. Essentially, the whole site is flash-based. The benefit is that it allows people with no html experience (like me) to maintain a site that is attractive and user friendly, and to keep it updated, unlike many church sites that are waiting for their designer to do their updates for them.

    I like many of the blog-based sites like yours and frwy, but for a lot of people, my flash sites are just the ticket.

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  8. I know this is old but I wanted to comment on it as a web designer and a woman with many opinions.

    I steer all of my clients away from flash – – in fact, I refuse to do anything flash or animated in websites I design unless it’s a small gif animation or something.

    I understand the appeal on different levels but I’m disappointed that so much flash is flowing into the web scene. However, if you notice, some of the newest, most cutting edge web 2.0 designs involve ZERO flash. so give it up for us hard line folks 😉

    I also have an opnion about that church – – good ideas but lots of very traditional stuff there too. They remind me of a church we attended in our area – – traditional in every way with a nice edgy venear.

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