I have been designing web pages for government organisations for quite some time now and all these designs require some sort of accessibility requirements for their audience. For those who are un familiar what I mean by accessibility, the W3C (world wide web consortium, if you want to learn more go here: http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/WAI-WEBCONTENT-19990505/full-checklist) have put together a guideline for making sure everyone can use your web page without a problem, e.g. people with a sight impairment have the ability to use your site to the full extent. Whether it’s just a slight impairment, needing larger font sizes on the page or complete blindness needing a reader like JAWS to actually read all the information on the page aloud, this including alt text and descriptions behind images.
So with that said, everyone wants flash in their site, sure it looks great, but sometimes I’m just not sure it’s worth the hassle (especially with W3C – well to put it bluntly, flash and W3C are not compatible at all. There…. I said it!). You can make some very sweet looking stuff in flash, but there can be more to making a web page then just having it look cool and have little moving bits and interesting menus. Unless you are great with XML it can be terrible to try and update a flash menu or content, much harder than teaching someone a few simple HTML commands so they can update the site themselves, oh and if they are computer savvy they still need a license for flash (what’s that? a couple of grand?) instead of notepad which comes with windows or edit plus which is a sweet little HTML editor available online.
The other point is everyone is talking about web 2.0, well a lot of people are talking about it but not many people seem to actually understand the idea of it. To put it in the most basic terms i can, web 2.0 is the next iteration on web sites and usability online, coined by Dale Dougherty. It talks about the use innovative designs, allowing the user to be more involved in the web, for example Wikipedia and Flickr are great examples of web 2.0. These sites allow people to share photos and ideas or information easily making the web a much more enjoyable place for all. With this new wave of web pages came a fresh look at the designing of web pages. it pushes the idea of simple and clean designs without all the clutter, e.g. slow loading fancy flash menus and other little bits and pieces.
Well i guess my point is flash still defiantly has its place on the web but I think to avoid it might be doing a favour to your web traffic, people don’t want to wait for loading no matter how cool it is. People are busy and don’t have time to sit around and wait for it to load. So use flash sparingly and if you really want to have some flash in your site, don’t make it a major point of your site, like the menus, a small advertisement or short movie is ok as long as it doesn’t take a long time to load and your site is still usable without it.
That’s my rant for the day. 🙂