Flash MX pages.. do you bother?

vincent_connare's picture

Do you bother with 'alternate pages' for the users who don't have Flash?

The new Flash MX has the ability to do flash detection but I don't see it being used in the typophile home page. Do any of you Flashers bother?


aluminum's picture

If you're target audience is graphic design geeks like us, then Flashturbate all you want.

Otherwise, you need to put it all in the context of your usergroup. Flash is rarely an improvement to the overall end-user experience when we're talking your average online consumer, or news site, etc. It can enhance the experience of certain types of sites...teen marketing, movie promos, etc.

If you ask yourself the basic question 'WHY is a person coming to this site?' it usually answers the Flash question. If that doesn't, then look at the accessibility issues (for those with screen readers, PDAs, corporate networks that block flash, older browsers, and folks that just hate flash). Is the benefit of the flash outweigh the percentage of lost audiene?

Like Helvetica, Flash is best when used in moderation, IMHO.

lars's picture

i'm building mostly 2 versions, because i mostly use xml for the content storage. that way it's quite "easy" to build a non-flash site that uses the same data base... and (even more important): google will index the site contents (yes, google does crawl flash content for some weeks now, but only uncompressed flash files! and normally everyone makes use of the compression export setting). all this only makes sense if you have content on your page of course :-)

vincent_connare's picture

yeh that's what I figured. I can easliy make an animated gif that is similar as the flash image but less flashy and a bit bigger. then that will come up when there isn't flash or it is blocked.

personally if they don't have broadband and they don't have flash then they aren't the customer...

dan's picture

I hate flash pages and always use an alternate when I get a chance. They take forever to load and they usually don't provide any additional content.

speter's picture

I'm with Daniel on this one.

vincent_connare's picture

Well I decided to detect flash from vers. < 4.0.. if it's not there it goes to an alt page which I change the flash bit with an aminated .gif.

The Flash image is quicker than the .gif and smaller.

And I'm finding even older Macs that I expect to have no flash had Flash 6 installed so it's in most browsers.

aluminum's picture

"And I'm finding even older Macs that I expect to have no flash had Flash 6 installed so it's in most browsers."

Whether the technology exists or not shouldn't be the deciding factor...it should be whether or not the end-user wants to use the technology. Borwser detection in all forms only detects hardware set up...not end-user preferences, which is what you really want.

vincent_connare's picture

yeah but most users who are designers don't change anything. If you look at most computers the UI is the default set up and colours. I've had a 100% success on all testers and people who have been targeted so Flash was a success and most users don't even know it's being used just that it works.

Vidoes and sound files I'll require Flash otherwise they can't hear or see the clips so tough.

aluminum's picture

Sure, sure, it all depends on the audience. But once you get into broader concepts of usability and accessibility, it is important to differentiate between 'hardware detection' and 'user preferences'.

hrant's picture

But also between what people say they want versus what they actually need.


hrant's picture

Or simply a result of the dual reality of mankind: conscious and subconscious.


Joe Pemberton's picture

As for Flash detection, yes, you should always detect for it.
However, I'd argue that the need is becoming less and less (for
mainstream audiences) to build both Flash and non-Flash

I agree that Flash is still largely used incorrectly - which doesn't
make the use of Flash right or wrong. It just means you should
use it for what it does best.

Regarding screen readers and PDAs. This has opened up so
vastly in the last 2 versions of Flash (roughly 2 years) that Jakob
Nielsen, Flash's one-time nemesis, now fully endorses Flash,
provided it's built within standard usability guidelines. The list of
improvements include standard interface elements (widgets) that
behave like browser widgets - drop down menus, pull-downs,
tab-enabled forms, selectable text (which means machine
readable text), etc, etc.

When we recently redesigned the fStop home page, we left out
the Flash gimmicks and built in some smart tools that allow the
fStop admin people to quickly update the content without the
need to either know Flash or use a content-management system
(CMS). ( http://www.fstopimages.com/ )

When we designed our own site, we deliberately blurred the lines
between Flash content and HTML content so that users cannot
immediately tell what is Flash and what is not. This required
using a system font (Arial) for all body text in and out of Flash,
but it's a good compromise that provides a seamless look.

Joe Pemberton's picture

Hmm, Hrant, that sounds like the same rationale that goes into
MS Office product development...

"Sure, people say they want word processing, but what they
really need is for the app to change all their hyphens to
bullets and add indents whenever they hit return."

(I love dissing Office. And I love dissing font guys who pose as
usability pros.)

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