Friday, April 11, 2008

Feeling the flash-based Hate

You can always spot when a pure engineer has designed a User Interface to something, because he has made something that makes perfect sense to him and about 3 other people and to everyone else it is Greek. Except to Greeks, to whom it is more like an obscure Swahili dialect.

I used to think the solution to a lot of this kind of computey (it's definitely a word, don't bother looking it up! trust the internet!) thing would be to get some arty types in to sort out the design. Unfortunately this theory results in the Graphics Designer. Who makes everything. EVERYTHING in Flash!

[Breathe]

OK, so what's wrong with Flash? Makes the site look all pretty and glossy right? Yeah. Now try and find something out about what you want. Wrong page? Click the back button - oh wait! The thing you clicked took you to a page that has magically removed the back button! And anything else useful that 15 years of Web Browser design and innovation has produced!

Here's my favourite - go to a website that is made of Flash and I guarantee that 1 out of 4 times the smarmy gobshite has hidden all of the menu items inside flash images. So not only does the thing start off more painful than an exploding appendix, you have to actively hunt for the things that will take you to the places that you don't want to go to anyway! - If I buy a novel I don't expect to have to figure out how to open it in a special way and then be presented with Magic Eye version of the bloody text! Use that principle and we'll be fine OK?

Here's another thing - you know how all modern and competent web browsers support tabbed browsing? So you can right click and select 'open in new tab' - so you can perhaps open up the details of a variety of products in one window? Not in flash - no sir! It’s left click or nothing! And if that's not the page you want? Right back to the bastard beginning you go!

There is also the propensity for showing you lots of stylish angles and lighting of different things - because you know, when I am in the market for a watch, the most important thing to me is how the face looks when catching the light of a log fire that I also don't own.

Show me a picture of the thing! Show a picture of it on someone's wrist. Tell me how deep I can theoretically go before water damage ensues, despite the fact that I will panic whenever there is moisture anywhere near it! Tell me how much it is; tell me where I can order and how. Do it now and do it quickly or I'm going somewhere else.

Evidently the watch example is from today and unsurprisingly, the more expensive the brand, the more obscure and unworkable the website.

The people who order these sites have to take some responsibility here, as has been pointed out to me - customers usually order things they have no clue about despite the best advice. This is especially true in IT. People want Flash because it is pretty and looks expensive. On the other hand, the designers have to take some responsibility - just because they are forced to work in flash does not mean they have to disappear up their own arses trying to be overly clever.

If you are going to commission a website to be designed, let me let you in on a secret. No one on this earth will take you seriously if you tell the poor sap who has to make it to do so in Flash. It is filth and should be left to the purposes for which it is best suited - funny online games involving chainsaws and zombies.

Now please excuse me, I have to go have an embolism. Or possibly an aneurysm. You get the idea.

4 comments:

Olivia said...

Oh Matt, for once I agree with you.

I hate not being able to use my trusty Back button, and I also hate having to start from the beginning every time.

So hear hear! Restrict it to fun online game playing!

Hanrah said...

Feel the pain from the web design company who are forever hearing the words "we'd really like something flash-based . . . " from clients.

You see clients usually forget somewhere along the line that they aren't commissioning a piece of artwork to trumpet the glory of their existance on the net. They forget that the whole point of having a site is so that customers can actually USE them.

Losers.

Jo said...

I'm work with graphic designers all the time and I'm convinced that their affinity for Flash is some kind of deep-seated sadistic impulse that they cannot repress.

MattJ said...

That's it then - we are all agreed, graphics designers are possessed of the flash-based devil and should be killed forthwith without mercy?

Clients will always be dumb-asses who have no idea what they are talking about or what they want. Graphics designers know, and they do it anyway - their crime is the greatest.

 
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