Putting Flash usability issues in context
June 1, 2001
Unlike a lot of usability experts who seem to regard Flash as the Great Satan, I actually think it's quite useful when used appropriately. Every site needs to strike its own balance between information, experience and interaction. Flash is extraordinarily good at providing a rich experience, so it's an appropriate choice when that's the main concern of the site (or section within the site). But when it's out of context, it can be a problem.

For example, I ran across a Spanish swimsuit maker's site with an elegant Flash presentation (aside from a too-short and thus overly-repetitive music loop). Fashion is all about image, and the presentation both sells the company's image and the fantasy about what wearing their suits will (hopefully) bring.

The problem is that the site's links give no clue that you're going to be watching something that's several minutes long—and worse yet actually leads you away from the site's online shopping. The site is bilingual, and the links that trigger the presentation are marked "English" and "Español," which needless to say draws you away from the "Virtual Boutique" link.

Some simple changes could probably fix the situation—for example, changing the links to "buy it" and "experience it (English/Español), and making the company info (hidden at the of the presentation) accessible from the home page.

That way it becomes clearer that the Flash presentation is a destination in itself, rather than being perceived as obstacle. ::

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Copyright © 2001 All Rights Reserved.
Any problems with the site?

Note: This site will look much better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.