News "flash" – How (not) to design a website

I hate flash websites. I hate waiting for them to load, I hate the totally unintuitive browsing with no back button and I hate the way you can’t cut and paste content you like. From a developer’s point of view, making changes can be a nightmare as well, or so I’ve heard.

However, I do love irrascible journalists like Guy Kewney. One of the reasons is here (via TWL) as Guy unloads on a PR company’s new website on Tim Dyson’s (Next Fifteen) blog.

Here’s what Guy said –

1) I’d quote from some of its pages for illustration, but Flash doesn’t allow cut and paste. So I can’t.
2) I’d point you to one or two of its pages, but Flash doesn’t include hyperlinks. So I can’t.
3) Flash is great for video. But there’s no video on the site.
4) It has a link (again, I can’t point you at it!) called “clients” which doesn’t list the clients, or give contact details. Not even contact details for the executive who’d handle the accounts!
5) It includes phone contact information. Unfortunately, it’s Flash, so I have to re-type the data for my address book… can’t cut and paste. Oh, and it’s tiny tiny print, so anybody over 40 will have to get their reading glasses out. Of course, nobody who matters is over 40, so that’s OK.

Worst of all, the text isn’t searchable and, I may be showing my ignorance here, so search engines can’t send their spiders into Flash sites.

What use is an unsearchable, unquotable, unsharable website in the new age of content sharing, citizen journalism and amateur pundits like myself? Flash is great when its embedded into a “proper” web page, but as a whole site, I think not.

Which new website is Guy talking about? This one or this one?

UPDATE – I was playing around with Digg and submitted this story. Don’t worry, it’s only been “dugg” twice so I hardly gamed the system, just experimenting. Anyway, the obviously intelligent “BeauXdidLeigH” commented thus:

So true…..
The following is a letter I’ve sent to several site managers recently.

We want information….. INFORMATION!

Flash is an accessory, a bell or whistle, NOT the foundation for a website.

What a waste of development dollars! (As they’ve been saying for years, “The only way to make any money from Flash is by selling Flash.”) Yup, there’s one born every minute.

Too often it is used on sites with minimal substantial content,
or to detract from the relevant content of a webpage.

With an increasing number of the serious surfers not using, or uninstalling Flash,
having MEANINGFUL content available only in Flash, sends people elsewhere to find
the information they seek.

In this century, arriving at ANY site with a page requesting a plug-in or a log-in, sends me away to more fruitful pastures. Having a PDF reader is an exception: it is used for the disemmination of (primarily) INFROMATIONAL content. Flash, on the otherhand, is the exact opposite.

If you’re a Flash-only, or heavily Flash-reliant site, you may as well save your hosting fees. People will migrate to a more functional website. Use Flash for multimedia and little kids’ sites.

“Too bad your site was worthless to us.”

Fortunately, its the ‘Net, there’s always another option.

…couldn’t have missed much that mattered.

4 Responses to News "flash" – How (not) to design a website

  1. It’s Red Consultancy that Guy’ss talking about, but his criticisms could have been leveled at the new crayon website.

    I can’t stand Flash websites that should not be Flash websites, either. In the case of Red’s new site, what is being done by Flash that wouldn’t work just as well with your standard CSS/HTML design? Nothing! Maybe Red’s trying to “be ambitious.” Instead, it’s pissing off its site users unnecessarily.

  2. Ed, you’re right, spiders can’t index Flash sites. If you’re going to use Flash, there should be some sort of text equivalent if you really want that content to show up in search results.

    There is a way to use text laid on top of the Flash, though, that can allow users to copy and paste. That’s what Red Consultancy and Crayon (and many others) should have done…

  3. […] time I’m tempted by the allure of Flash websites, Berkshire Hathaway (BH) brings me back to earth. It may sound strange, but this […]

  4. I didn’t agree with flash web sites and I don’t too, Unless you dont want to be search engins or confuse your visitors. most of flash pages are failed to be up for most visitors as you know.

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