Saturday, December 13, 2008

If you are a Flash-based website, I hate you.

Buggy, slow, annoying, hard to navigate, those are all words that can describe flash based websites. The worst thing about them is how many computer and tech companies are doing this to their sites. Sure, it looks good, but screw looking good. When I go to a website, I want to be able to use that website. Every Flash site I've used was hard to navigate. I don't want fancy animations or anything of that sort, they suck. Plus you can't use them on cell phones.
Even when they've done it right, like worked out the bugs and made it possible to navigate, there's still some issues that can't be rid of. For example, it is a law of the internet that every Flash based site absolutely must put all descriptive text in boxes that are hardly big enough for one paragraph (or one sentence from Robinson Crusoe, by the way I hate that book). This means that you have to scroll every other sentence. And if that's not annoying enough, you can't scroll with your scroll wheel because it's in Flash. So you have to hold down the scrolly-rectangle and drag it every few seconds. Then the low frame rate makes it choppy so you will lose your place. And if there's lots of text, you'll likely scroll past where you wanted to read since more text scrolls faster. If that's not bad enough, some sites like to animate the scrolling and give it ease, so it can't be too easy to scroll to where you want to. If you're on a product page, you can forget about learning of the product.
And don't forget that if you refresh, you're thrown back to the site's homepage. When the whole site is done in Flash, all the pages are in Flash. This can be fixed by separating different pages into different flash files and putting them on their own pages, but then you have to wait for the unnecessary animation and all that crap to load. Even on a fast connection, this will take longer than a simple HTML page. 
I know that at the moment the best way to appeal to customers is to blind them with fancy animations on your site, but unfortunately it sucks. Even Apple, the company who is most known for sacrificing performance for aesthetics (although they don't do it that much these days) has a straightforward, HTML-based site. They do spruce it up with lots of Javascript and Quicktime, but that's just fine. There's also Maddox's site which contains zero Flash, Javascript that doesn't step into page aesthetics, and it works. It works great. He's even mentioned on his website how he gets more visits on his simple page than any company who spends tons of money on having a Flash site made. Maybe it's because his site is usable. He's also pointed out Google. Speaking of that, look at Google. I'm not even going to say why that supports my point.

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