Websites Giving Flash a Bad Name

We’ve all seen them.  Horribly designed, heavy, busy, and “flashy”.  Yep, you guessed it.  Bad Flash websites.  But beyond that, I firmly believe there’s another obvious reason why people (like the folks at Apple, for instance) don’t like Flash.  And as much as I may hate to say it, being a web developer who uses Flash in my digital tool belt, I’m starting to lean the same way.  Here’s a huge reason why…

Yahoo!  Heard of that website?  Thought so.  It used to be my home page.  That is, until the Flash ads literally started to hamper my user experience and demand my attention not only to see the stupid thing, but to figure out where I needed to click to close the darn thing.  I’ve since boycotted Yahoo! because of the repeatedly poor user experiences I had.  I mean seriously, check out this screenshot I took of the Yahoo! start page and see if you notice what may have annoyed me:

Yahoo Home Page Screenshot

Yep, you guessed it.  That innocent little ad in the right side column (which started out in its own box, by the way) expanded itself — on its own — multiple times before settling into its home, where it should have been in the first place.  And when it expands, it overlays the main content of the page.  So if you click just a split second too late, you’re getting passed off to the ad’s site like a proverbial peace pipe, becoming another statistic in their “click-through rate” column, and furthering the spread of expandable ads, because the stats are saying they’re more effective due to the increase in click-rate.

Call me old fashioned, but that sort of in-your-face advertising represents a key problem with advertising — specifically with what is done with Flash.

Somewhere in the world, some Flash developer worked on this ad.  And this is happening all over the place.  Maybe the Flash developers are thinking it’s cool, and a good idea.  Maybe they are doing it because The Man is telling them they have to in order to get their paycheck.  Or because the client is paying them handsomely and for that, they just don’t care.

Whatever the reason may be, here’s my humble opinion:  Any Flash developer who works on ads like these and doesn’t feel remorse for the end user is not a true web developer.  In my mind, they simply fall into the category of someone who knows how to use Flash as a program, not as a tool to use  to truly create a good user experience with it when the situation calls for it.  It’s like someone who picks up Photoshop (or PS Elements) and thinks they’re a graphic designer just because they own the software and know how to crop a picture or auto-adjust levels.  I don’t claim to be an auto mechanic just because I’ve changed my own oil and own a socket wrench.  Or a heating and cooling expert just because I changed the air filter on my furnace.  Or a doctor because I own a thermometer and can gauge when I’m running a fever.

Simply put, I am seriously starting to dislike and even boycott websites with poor user experiences.  And like I said, because of my Yahoo! experience, I have honestly stopped visiting their site as my source for news and email.  I’d much rather get news from somewhere like Google, where clean and simple hierarchical text and images are used, and intuitive user interface design is present.  It’s clean, easy to read, and unassuming, letting me get to where I need faster and easier.

Until next time, happy (and better, more intelligent, less obtrusive) coding!

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