Saturday, February 21, 2009

Flash Corporate Websites are Dead… (I wish someone had told me)

Xiik interactive recently wrote a post titled: Flash Corporate Websites are Dead...Oh...and Intros Too.

Being a Flash developer, this obviously peaked my interest. I started to respond on his blog, but realized I was writing a page worth of information and therefor am placing it here and just leaving a track back.

Please read their article before you view my response.

These are obviously my own views and do not represent anyone I may be affiliated with. Also, I write this document out of friendly debate and have nothing against it's writer or their company.

Flash Corporate Websites are Dead? I disagree. As a Flash Developer my views may be somewhat biased, but at the same time, as a Flash Developer my views are informed.

I agree that Flash is not meant for everyone. I will also agree that Intros are mostly a thing of the past. However, that is about the extent of what I will agree to.

Your first compliant is in regards to FortyFiveIndy.com. You state that Flash cannot be viewed on Mobile devices. That is false, it can be viewed on mobile devices. Adobe produces Flash Lite which is supported by Verizon, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, and LG... to name just a few. The problem here actually lies with Apple. They are pulling a Bill Gates and are not allowing Flash onto their iPhones in order to maintain their iPhone Application monopoly. Steve Jobs can't control Flash like he can iPhone apps and therefore he is doing what he can to not allow Flash on the iPhone even though Adobe has made a compatible player. That is an interesting side debate, but the point here is that only iPhone users can't view Flash... not Mobile users in general as you suggested. It may seem like the iPhone is the only mobile device since it is the current buzz word and receives all the attention from the media, but in reality it only represents 1.1 percent of the Market share. Hardly enough to make a big deal about Flash not working on someone's mobile site. Granted, the developers should have included a brief non-flash page just for usability purposed to handle that 1 percent.

Second up... you say many Flash sites are annoying. I'll give you that. But I will also say that many non-Flash sites are annoying. You can't blame Flash or Adobe for there being bad developers out there. Just because some designers and developers don't know how to properly use an interactive medium does not mean that all designers and developers do not. You can't through out the entire medium based on someone else's poor execution... That is just faulty logic.

Take Nike for example. It is Flash through and through. You have a mix of motion, video, interactive pieces, entertaining experiences, flexible shopping, etc, etc... You can not pull off a site like this with standard HTML. Compare Nike.com to something like Procter and Gamble. Which site can you find things easier on? Which site do you want to stay longer on? Which site do you get a more positive experience out of? After spending some time on Nike, can you honestly say that Flash corporate sites are dead?

I would argue the opposite. Flash is on the rise, even in the corporate world. It is placed firmly at the breaking point of a multimedia evolution. Bandwidth has become far less of an issue. Flash has 99 percent global penetration. Flash now supports 3D. It supports High Def video. It supports mobile (don't worry, Mac will see the light). Therefore, as TV and the internet merges (which is clearly happening), who is going to facilitate this evolution? Flash is far from dead. Flash Corporate Websites are far from dead. In fact, these trends would suggest that they will increase.

14 comments:

xiik said...

Mark, great comment on our blog. We appreciate that you read it and respectfully disagreed with our opinion. In the sake of continuing the conversation, we've updated the blog with another post. It's a great subject and I'm excited to discuss it with a very talented professional like yourself. http://tr.im/gEw6

Anonymous said...

He clearly has an agenda (probably knows a java script framework or two).
Nothing has really changed there will always be amateur sites and there will always be professionally produced sites. The bigger the brand the better (more professional) its likely to be. As for devices the full player will be everywhere by 2010.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anonymous. Hating on Flash ( or any particular technology ) is really just sad and slaps of being prejudice and lazyness. It's really just a waste of everyone's time when someone rants against it.

I encourage others to skip 'feeding the fire' and just ignore those who lash out against Flash.

Anonymous said...

As much as I love flash (been living from it for 8+ years), I, as a web professional, would never suggest my "corporate corporate" clients a flash website.

I agree that there are sites with emphasis on visuals that could benefit from using flash (1% maybe?), but for a company that does finance consulting (think IPO-s and such), business training or eccommmerce, flash would be something unbelieveably annoying, definetly bad for easy information access and SEO purposes. So - Retail Corporate - "semi" ok to have flash, White Collar Corporate - not really.

There is also the Flash Lite issue, but it is a joke. Mainly because the number of phones supporting it is limited mostly to the high end smartphones, and also we would have to rewrite all as3 code to support this "thing", ten pay for testing on multiple devices, etc... and even then nobody will use that flash lite site, as most of the mobile users of my clients' sites use Opera Mini, which digests all of the content for easy text access... there are smartphones (and iPhones too), but 300-400mhz cpu wouldn't ever handle a proper flash website.

-

That said - I just finished a two weeks worth of Flash Site for kids and loved working with AS3 waaaaaaaaay more than with JS frameworks and html.

Ickydime said...

@xiik, thanks for the kind words and friendly debate. I've enjoyed the conversation that you have started and look forward to reading your rebuttal.

@Anon1 (why is everyone anonymous? show yourselves! haha)
I don't know about an agenda or evil plot to destroy flash, I read the article more as that he genuinely thinks its a bad platform to use for corporate websites. I just want to make sure that decision makers fully understand Flash's capabilities and pitfalls before they make their decision. Deciding not to use Flash can be the correct decision, I just disagreed with the reasonings that he chose for making his personal decision.

Ickydime said...

@anon2
Again, I don't think it was hatred. And again, I don't think we can ignore it. It is partly our job to ensure that marketers, agencies, web studios, etc. are educated. If they are deciding not to use Flash based on old, incorrect information, then we may be losing potential clients.

Ickydime said...

@anon3
Great addition to the debate. I agree that Flash Lite is not there yet. However, its making leaps and bounds. Adobe has promised Flash 10 on mobile by the end of the year. I agree that websites should have an alternative HTML block for their mobile sites right now, but I strongly disagree that we should disregard Flash on mobile, especially in the near future.

I agree with your initial statement that some sites would not benefit from Flash. However, I disagree with your examples.

Financial Consulting? Why not? Make it Flash, use interactive Charts and searches (similar to eTrades) to help your client find information quickly. With a strong User Interface design you can make the information much more accessible than trying to find the information in HTML text and charts copied from excel.

Business Training? Again, why not? Add value to your site by making the training interactive. Flash is a great tool for online education, why not incorporate those features into your site?

E-commerce? Want to customize your Nike shoe in HTML? Flash has the potential to add a great deal of features to the e-commerce world so that users can interact with and experience what they are purchasing before they actually do so. Plus, it offers the same benefits of an AJAX application by being able to search the DB directly and not having to reload the page each search.

Flash can make any site an experience and that is what many Corporations fail to see... and then they wonder why they have an average time on site of 10 seconds. Granted, the experience has to be professional, done in good taste, relevant to the user, and adds value to the site. This is where some organizations have failed and this is why many corporations play it safe with static text. Little risk, little reward.

Guilherme Viebig said...

Flash will serve for 2 purposes:

- banners, widgets and animations
- apps

Anything besides that is far away for any standards.

HTML5/CSS3/Javascript will rule flash, because one thing that they have and flash dont: standards.

You should read: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_design

I dont say that you cant have a full flash site, but its not a good idea.

The costs and effectiveness are way out web reality, to mantain a site like nike.com

I´m not nostradamus, but I can predict with 99.9% sure, that nike will adopt html, or at least a full html clone of it´s site in the next 3 years.

Regards

Ickydime said...

@Guilherme
HTML5 does add an interesting aspect into the Debate.

If HTML5 gets wide acceptance (across browsers AND across non-PC devices), if it can do everything Flash can do, and if it can easily integrate into the production pipeline then there will be no reason for Flash... even for banners or apps.

If that is the case, I will happily switch to HTML5.

However, I don't think that will be the case.

The standards you mention... well, they are far from being standard right now and may not be standard for years to come. YEARS! In the technology realm, that timeline is unacceptable. HTML5 can do many great things, but even it can't match Flash 10... so once it is finally the standard, it will be way behind the latest version of Flash (12+???).

Flash, on the other hand, does a fairly good job of working the same across 98+ computers and is making huge strides to work across all devices. Try making an HTML site that works on all browsers and platforms and then compare that to making a Flash site that works on all browsers and platforms and then we can discuss standards. How many caveats do you need to include to make the HTML work on IE6? And that is just one browser example.

Moving on... HTML5 does not easily fit into the production pipeline. There is no tool to design/develop in that matches the ease and integration of Flash. Developers will not take the leap until they have a tool that can mimic Flash & Flash Builder.

Now I am curious... how would recreating Nike in HTML5 make it cost any less? I agree that the Nike experience will cost more than a traditional webstore and checkout; however, if you want to include the same experience in HTML5 then you are going to have to go through the same development cycle and therefore the same cost. You could tout SEO, but Google can't parse databases or dynamic data regardless of whether its Flash or AJAX so that won't help Nike. For the experience sites, I see no benefit to switching to HTML5.

In summary, HTML5 does not offer any viable reason to switch away from Flash. It does give developers a new choice. But just like AJAX in the past, it is not as widely accepted as Flash, it does not support everything Flash can do, and it does not easily fit into the developer's pipeline. Therefor, I disagree with your 3 year prediction and think its much more likely that in 3 years you will be promoting a new technology as the next Flash killer.

Dragos said...

Flash is only good for games and video streaming. And HTML 5 will put an end to that.

Death to all browser plugins.

Ickydime said...

@Dragos, Flash is much much more than Games and Streaming. But even if we play in just that sandbox... HTML5, from what I have seen, can not handle games. An old school nintendo emulator was running at 5fps for tetris... I have yet to see a game run smoothly. And even if it did, I see no reason for game devs to switch... what improvement does HTML5 offer? As for video... HTML5 needs to agree on a codec across browsers before it can be taken seriously.

Zimbu said...

Interesting post. I personally believe that flash intros are a 'turn off' for viewers due to these reasons:
1) Some take time to load
2) Usually not very interesting
3) it acts as a 'blockaid' to the website. Webmasters should be making it as easy as possible to get onto the website and not putting extra pages prior to letting the visitor seeing the content/info/you-name-it!

Obviously this is an extremity (http://tinyurl.com/2ewdww3) though anything which gets in the way of a visitor (in my oppinion) is a big problem.

However, if you are using it to help enrich your site (video player (though with HTML5 it can be better)) then sure, go for it and 'jazz up' the site!

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basement renovation said...

I definitely agree that Flash lite is making leaps and bounds. I also loved working with AS3 better than with JS frameworks and html.