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SIGIA-L Mail Archives: Re: SIGIA-L: Flash as a superior ui tech

Re: SIGIA-L: Flash as a superior ui technology

From: Christopher Turner (
Date: Fri Feb 16 2001 - 03:21:56 EST


I have to say: I do agree with Erik. Flash is a sophisticated and powerful
tool. The stone wall it puts up to the disabled is deeply troubling; I'll
become an active proponent of all-Flash sites when that (and the search
problem) are licked. Until then, the designers are gonna have to convince me
that it makes sense in terms of the demographics, the site concept, and the
client's long term plans. And, yes, Flash splash screens and pointless
animations must die.

But - I gotta say - this whole "99% bad" thing seems to me - sorry, Dr.
Nielsen - a bit on the hysterical side. Usability testing is an excellent
and wonderful thing but - unfortunately - all usability testing can tell you
is if something works or if it doesn't. It provides a whole raft of
information about what went wrong, but it doesn't provide a solution.

Isn't that where we come in? And if Flash can help us deliver a solution
that fits the clients' needs and objectives... well, geez, what's the

Best to all,

Christopher Turner
Information Architect

on 2/15/01 8:49 PM, Erik Larson at wrote:

> Hello,
> I like to chime in every once in a while to clear up some of the smoke
> surrounding Flash ;-). First, it is important to note that Macromedia
> releases a new version of the Flash player (a browser plug-in) roughly in
> synch with new versions of the authoring environment. We released the Flash
> 5 player last year.
> With that in mind, a couple facts about Flash players: over 95% of all
> browsers have at least the Flash 3 player installed, a higher penetration by
> far than any other media standard (higher even than javascript) or browser
> type, with the exception of gifs and jpegs. Almost 85% of browsers have at
> least the Flash 4 player installed. And HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of Flash 5
> players are successfully downloaded or installed every quarter. If you want
> to see the stats from NPD, an independent research firm, check out:
> Second, while Flash has significant accessibility and searchability problems
> (which Macromedia is working on diligently), in my opinion IN THE RIGHT
> HANDS it is a vastly superior and more usable application interface than
> html for many reasons, including superior cross-browser form creation,
> direct XML communications, and strong client side scripting. For example,
> has anyone ever tried building a sortable datasheet-type form with editable
> and calculated cells in html that works equally well in Netscape X.X for the
> Mac and IE X.X for Windows? How about one that also looks professional,
> downloads and posts quickly, and allows in-browser scaling? I haven't yet
> seen one on the web, though I expect we will soon...done in Flash.
> My current favorite usable Flash site/application is:
> Log-in as a guest (no personal info exchange necessary) and see what you
> think. In particular, click on the news stories (all dynamically served
> from a database to Flash) and check out the Flash-driven message boards.
> The site downloads faster than an equivalent HTML site, and in my opinion is
> more usable than most as well. NOTE: I think you will need the Flash 5
> player, if you don't have it already.
> I know that many usability folks have strong emotional reactions against
> Flash based on history. That's to be expected, at least in part since it's
> not that easy to learn how to use it properly (something else Macromedia is
> working on). Critiquing the many ways that inexperienced designers have
> spray-painted the web with Flash is interesting sport, but ultimately
> information architects are responsible for advancing the state of the online
> user experience using the appropriate technologies for the job. I imagine
> that many of the folks on this list who don't understand how Flash can be
> used to build better application interfaces would be surprised if they spent
> some time learning about its less glitzy and more useful capabilities. I
> certainly was.
> Cheers!
> -Erik
> Erik Larson
> Product Manager
> Macromedia
> --------------------------------------------------------------
> Come to Macromedia UCON 2001 and Champion the User Experience!
> Macromedia International User Conference
> April 10th - 12th, 2001
> Hilton New York
> It's your time to defend, protect and champion what the Web can be.
> For more information and to register visit:

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