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Subject: Re: UKNM: Flash
From: Sam Carrington
Date: Thu, 6 Apr 2000 17:28:39 +0100

Preventing user access to a site without plug in X is obviously a self
defeating promotional strategy, however, offering alternatives, and
notifying the user of the potential of extended content is a way that
content providers can increase the uptake of extended technologies such
as Shockwave. i.e. default the user to vanilla HTML, but let them know
there is a flashed equivalent (although if you can see the content
already, the likelyhood of users waiting even longer just to get some
bells and whistles is debatable).

The use of flash should always be driven by content which is relevant to
the technology - Sense have used it successfully in a number of our
sites, where the task could not easily have been acheived otherwise.
Where an HTML equivalent is possible, we provide it, but the Flashed
experience is often so much richer that it more than justifies its

Designers new to the field and eager to flex their flash 'muscles' are
frequently blind to the basic requirements of web design - accessibility
is always key. It isn't just 'flashed' sites which are guilty of this
(ALT tags anyone?).

Thus it is often designers who have transferred from other media who are
guilty of the cardinal sins - although this, of course, is something of
a generalisation.

Fat GIFs, >200kb Flash, no ALT tags, poor interaction. All these
elements go hand in hand to ruin user experience of a great many sites,
Flashed and otherwise.

One of the advantages of well made flash presentations is that downloads
can be staggered; content can be streamed seamlessly as and when
required. Unfortunately there are still some - albeit very good looking
- sites out there which do not make full use of the streaming
capabilities of the technology.

Often clients ignorant of the true limitations of the web can be sold
all singing all dancing flash movies because they get a good WOW factor
themselves, and are not knowledgeable enough to see the down side (until
they get back to their offices and try and see the content online of

However, fractionally extended wait times alone should not be a reason
to abandon tools like Flash altogether, I mean, Java compilers can take
an age to kick off, but is anyone abandoning applets? Looking at
shockwave.com shows you that users can be offered things to do while
movies load or have content streamed to them.

If the embedded object acheives a task which could not have been done
otherwise, and manages to restrict dead time to the absolute minimum, it
has got most of the way to being a successful project. There are things
flash can do which could not be done otherwise.

At the end of the day, we should use the right tools for the right job.

To quote Jeff Veen (HotWired Style) -
Say this out loud: "the web is not print, the web is not television, the
web is not CD-ROM"

So if you want a web site, employ web designers ;-)

sam carrington // web designer // www.sensei.co.uk

Speechradataol [dot] com wrote:

[ ... snip ... ]

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  Re: UKNM: Flash, Speechrad

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