I'm in a mental struggle sometimes ... Part of me just desires to teach people in need but a lot of times they just take my hints as an insult and can't seem to handle the positive criticism and get personal in their replies. Their loss I think, since that shuts me up and then I stop teaching for free. Perhaps it's the way I convey those, I should wrap it all up under a mantle of love next time
So what happened.... : I got a link today to a freshly launched site via Facebook and opened it up on my 'HTC Desire' android phone. The page stayed blank... for a second I even thought I had no network but I was wrong... The thing is entirely run in flash!
Here's the situation: The designer of this site is a person I know for a long time, the new startup business the site covers is from someone I know as an ex-colleague. Both are in my friends-list on Facebook and I'm not in the mood to tear their perfect world down -not yet anyway-. I really respect self-employed starters and it's bad mojo to criticise them right of the bat while they are cruising the(ir) zone. It's not for me to point out they are making a -lets call it as such- a very false webstart.
The designer is quite a multi-talented person, in fact, he's a very creative, has strong personality and has been a gifted designer for more than a decade when it comes to visually pleasing stuff. But he's got a big thing for flash, Maybe that was hot in 2001, it's not in 2011 to create an entire website in Flash. Not the WHOLE site!!!
Apparently he doesn't know the do's and the don't s any more. I don't know the exact details about their reasoning at this point, I am assuming that the choice of technology was agreed on by both customer and supplier here. That's how it's supposed to happen anyway. You NEED to talk about that stuff beforehand, there are consequences if you don't.
why this approach sucks
So what so wrong about this to justify me bloggin about it? Well, where do I start? Perhaps answer a question with a question. What's wrong with HTML/CSS combo? Really, why do they consider that a fall-back as they responded to me on FaceBook ? Since when is good ol' HTML/CSS a second option when talking about creating web pages? Seriously?
I rechecked my calendar and it's still 2011, not 2001. Back then, everyone wanted to offer the flash experience. The general realisation among -web-masters back then- web-designers that going all flash is a bit counter-productive against the bigger goals of a website (reaching a bigger audience, expanding your visibility, make a bigger dent in the universe, caressing your ego,...) came pretty quick after the initial hype.
I've been in doubt if I was going to mention the real URL in this post or not, I decided for now that I don't want to throw too much oil on the fire at this point so I'm not going to mention it. No need to bash them here. I don't really care if they read this or not, this is MY Blog anyway, and if they do read it, I sure hope I've thought them at the end if they read this all the way.
why I take the effort to rant about this
But that's not the reason I write this, I'm writing this because I was blown away by the ignorance of people I didn't expect it from. There have to be many more people only half as smart as they are who share their views as well. That means some serious job security for me as there is a lot of work left to do in the www world. Lots of crap to solve! If two not-so-dumb people end up designing a very simple site entirely in such a horrible technology, I cannot imagine how many of those really-dumb people would do the same.
how it can be done the right(™) way
WordPress or alike with some suitable theme would have looked like their flash version, nothing fancy really. At least nothing you can't solve with some good old jquery effects. A motivated website designer would probably be able to do it entirely in HTML/CSS and ditch the jquery/js entirely. A simple menu bar, some sub-pages, a photo or 2. a mission statement, Some GUI work, figure the CSS out and ....Done. All static HTML. Content wise the site is actually ok. I could tell in 20 seconds what it was all about, their products, information... that means your content is to the point.
5 reasons to do a website entirely in flash
Time for some reverse reasoning: here are my top 5 reasons for creating your site in -preferable- the latest flex/flash version:
- You don't want to get indexed by Google and other search engines -at all- and just do business with people who already know your site. You certainly don't want any of your content to be used to give that shiny website a good ranking through carefully selected keywords. SEO comes to mind which is just impossible to rhyme this with flash.
- You do want all your potential customers to be running on big fat machines that are capable of pouring tons of resources into that little ugly thing that flash is. Like saying: "please, suckers on high tech phones with gigs of ram, please go to the competition, I don't want your business, you'll need to get flash on it first."
- You also don't want any traffic (=potential customers) from people not using flash at all.
- You have lots of spare time to create and maintain a second version -which you consider a step down- in the real language of the web, HTML. You also want to maintain two different version, modify your content twice etc.
- You don't want any individual pages get hyperlinked. Just the base URL is fine to be linked to.
I'm not even going to fall over the fact I cannot copy/paste anything from this site, not even the contact email, nor the phone number... nothing!!! My Skype client doesn't recognise the number as it's inside flash. I don't know enough about flash to bash that deeply now but I'm going to assume that is fixable. As a potential customer I think that sucks big time.
life without flash
I hate flash since day 1. It's crap, it hogs your computer as if Jabba the Hut is sitting on top of it. It's totally not suited for the web, even more true now than ever before. I admit, people make amazing stuff with this sometimes, but for a simple plain vanilla professional site, why even bother using flash? With the upcoming HTML5 standards you can do even more but you don't need to, you can use the existing technologies and standards already. It's a simple site you're making, flash is regarded as unprofessional in lots of circles. No need to overdo the thing, Get Real!
Stating to me that : "This site isn't intended to be opened on a mobile phone" as I was told is just plain dumb and ignorant. I have a hard time to believe they really believe this themselves or if that was just a quick excuse. It's a testimony that you haven't evaluated this answer yourself, your goal with a site is not to exclude certain groups right of the bat. It's to include as much as you can. People just don't perceive your intentions the way you want. I'm a techie, I could distill all this from my knowledge. My mom cannot, her perception will be: "It doesn't work, next site". "I'll go somewhere else with my money, I was ready to flash it as I was interested in your domain name", but now you lost that momentum, that first impression because you've been restricting your public beforehand
where to use flash correctly
It's all about content and exposure, if you rely on the Internet to get you more business, just make the entry to your business as low as possible. You want EVERYONE to be able to visit your site on whatever client they use and see your content. Sticking to today's web standards and good practises is a good start to achieve this with minimum effort to get maximum exposure. There are plenty articles to find on the net that explain those, use them.
There's my torpedo of truth!