Posts tagged flash
Posts tagged flash
For the record, I have no particular beef with Flash, other than it offers very little benefit for a huge overhead. Alright I’m biased .. I don’t like it and it has no place on a commercial website. More on my biases later. First, a recap on how I encountered Flash on a mobile and the implications.
Background (skip to Pitfalls of Flash if you’re short of time)
I’m interested in some professional headshot photographs to replace the self portraits I currently employ. I could go to somewhere and get a passport photo but they are often too sterilised for my purpose. So I did what most people do these days - I reached for a browser enabled device and went to Google. [BTW if you know of a photographer in the Croydon Park, NSW area that does something other than wedding photos and baby snaps, I’d love to hear about them.]
One of the sites that confronted me was built using Flash. It had a landing page proudly announcing the site was built with flash and that I need “screen resolution of at least 1024x768”. Two of the choices available were “- enter full screen -” and - enter same window -“. The meaning of those descriptors wasn’t immediately apparent. Either way it took in excess of 30 seconds from selecting an option and the Flash script downloading and showing the first image. In the image below, the left half is the landing page and the right half was after 30 seconds.
Was it worth the wait? Not to me. At the default resolution of the screen, I still had to expand the display to be able to read the menu before I could find out the range of services offered. Don’t forget I was on a quest for some headshots. I still don’t know if this photographer offers that service. I was not impressed enough to find out. The only value I extracted from this website was the germ of an idea to blog about.
“Pitfalls of Flash
Here’s my list of issues impacting mobile visitors:
I have other concerns that are not mobile specific. Some of these are covered in the Related Articles below.
I think you should avoid Flash entirely. I think it is a very poor choice for presentation to your mobile visitors, and we know they are an increasing portion of internet users. Can you afford to alienate even a small section of your potential client base?
As the result of some random browsing, I came across a site with that message on their landing page. Just below it was the message “You can always visit our Facebook or our MySpace for fun”. Is anybody else as bewildered by this approach as I am?
We know iPhones (and iPads for that matter) won’t display Flash. That’s a problem. I don’t think Apple will change their position any time soon. How can a business afford to turn away a percentage of their visitors, many of whom will be existing or potential customers?
Maybe your experience is only a few percent of your visitors use iPhones, which may make this decision seem acceptable - it’s only a few percent after all. But every site is different. They all appeal to different demographics. What happens when the demographic for this site has a high percentage of iPhone users in its midst? My feeling is that the percentage of visitors impacted by the no iPhone decision is now well outside the “few percent” range. Potentially it could have a big impact.
Is this site in that situation? I don’t know, but I think it is likely.
I haven’t identified the site concerned. I don’t know their circumstance. I don’t raise this issue to make a point against them. This may be a good decision in their context. But how have they come to this point. Are they being let down by the advice about the construction of their website or is there a failure to understand their own demographic?
I hope for their sake I’m making a mountain out of a mole hill.
Check out the size of this textarea for comments that I found on an industry association site (I won’t mention which site or which industry). They’ve given their visitors a whopping 26 characters by 7 lines before a scroll bar is displayed.
You say it’s still possible to keep inserting text, so what’s the problem? You’d be right. The visitor can keep typing and create a large comment using the available facility. But have you tried to create a long message in a space this size? It’s very frustrating. Reviewing the text is very difficult.
Perhaps they are trying to discourage visitors from creating long messages. That can’t be it as there is no real barrier here. It’s still possible to create a long message, just not very convenient. Perhaps they are concerned about a larger input field forcing changes to the layout. I think they could extend the width to at least 36 characters before any significant adjustments would be required, but there’s plenty of scope to increase the number of lines displayed. 10 to 15 lines would seem more appropriate.
By the way, there was a link to site developer at the bottom of the page. I visited their site and looked at their contact page. It’s just as small.
[Note to self: Better check all the sites you’ve developed just to make sure I’m not throwing stones while living in glass house.]
I’m not touching the issues on this site related to the Flash (with an annoying sound effect) or the reliance on scripting for menus (that could be built in HTML and style in CSS with a virtually indistinguishable visual result but with less cruft in the code and greater usability). But I will mention a reference a small item that jarred for me on their home page. They show an icon for a DVD just below the text “View our short window film DVD”* and then “READ MORE” presented like a button. The whole thing is an image as a link. So when you click the image you go to a new page which has a YouTube video embedded on it.
[*There’s actually a clue about the industry in that text. It’s not a reference to Microsoft Windows, and the film has nothing to do with movies.]
What jarred? Two things bothered me. There’s no DVD it’s a YouTube video; and other than a small amount of text in the video, there’s nothing to read. A little proofreading goes a long way.
[Another note to self: Better hire an extra pair of eyes to keep me on the straight and narrow.]
I came across an interesting website the other day - Tag Your Cause (http://www.tagyourcause.com). (NOTE: Apparently this domain is no longer active. Thus I have removed the link, but I still show the original URL.)
The word “Tag” has a number of meanings depending on the context. Two that came to my mind are the tagging we do on blogs to associate keywords with an article and something to do with graffiti (try Wikipedia if you need more information). But I wasn’t right.
In this case it means the things put on luggage to identify the owner. What’s different here is the tag has logo of a charity or cause, as well as the space for the owner’s details. Here’s a sample on their website …
Sorry if that took a while to display. Unfortunately the image they used is actually larger than the displayed size by about a factor of 10. That means it wastes a lot of bandwidth and therefore time to display this image at this size. So why not show it full size? Good question. It’s not my image to play with so I can’t alter it, and I don’t have layout space to do it justice. That’s my reason. What’s theirs? I have no idea. If I ever am in contact with them it will be on the discussion list.
Anyway, back to the thread. Why am I writing about them? First, because it seems like a reasonable way to help some charities (the ultimate recipients of the profit from the sale of the tags). Second, the site is the project of local entrepreneur, Matthew Beeche, and I like to identify and encourage local entrepreneurs. And third because there are some things on the website that I think should be discussed.
Why the concern about Flash? Has anyone noticed that Flash is not supported on iPhones and other portable Apple browser appliances? Last I heard Steve Jobs is not relenting on this decision. So if you want to cater for the flagship of the portable browser market reliance on some alternate content is definitely worth considering.
Here are some other things I noticed …
The title text for all pages is “Tag Your Cause | Help us give back to those who need it most!” There’s once exception in the seven pages and that’s the contact page, and its title is “Contact us - Tag Your Cause | Help us give back to those who need it most!” Not very inventive. And this only compounds the limited “on page” content. The title tag is still regarded as one of the most important elements on a page.
The link to the LuckyTags Twitter page shown at the bottom of every page didn’t work for me. Twitter told me “Sorry, that page doesn’t exist!” This is also known as a broken link. Not a very polished look.
I’m not familiar with this spelling “orgainsiations” (last paragraph on the About Us page).
And finally, that’s an interesting form at the bottom of the Causes page. With no border on the input fields (in Firefox 3.6 and IE 7.0) it takes some guesswork to know what’s going on.
For the record, I have no affiliation with this site or the charities it is serving. I make these comments not to denigrate the site but in the spirit of there’s something to learn in every situation. If the Matthew or a representative of Tag Your Cause has any issues with my comments I would be happy to discuss their concerns and give them and opportunity to change my opinion.