Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Stop Flashing Me Already

I’m getting ready to redesign our own website, and I’ve been exploring a lot of competitive agency websites for inspiration. Is it just me, or is almost every agency website built in Flash, with a fancy front end that plays like a TV commercial before getting me to the site itself?

I know there are some who disagree with me—even among my own colleagues—but I think these sites sacrifice the steak for the sizzle. I’ve already issued an edict to my team that when we build our site it will not be in Flash and will not have the fancy front end. Why? It seems self-serving, like t-shirts with our company logo on them. They make us feel good about ourselves, but don’t really help our customers.

As a customer, I personally hate having to wait for the Flash movie to get over before getting to the site, so I usually try to find the “skip it” link. Sometimes that link is easier to find than others, and for sites that make it difficult to find I end up getting annoyed. Then when I do get to the site, everything I click on is usually animated. Everything I mouse over usually deploys a hidden message. And when I’m not clicking on anything there’s usually something moving somewhere on the screen trying to grab my attention. It just annoys me, like a little dog that’s constantly yapping and nipping at your heels for attention.

What does such a site say for promoting your company as a communication partner? “We don’t really know how to grab your attention, so we’ll throw everything we have at you”? “Look at how awesomely creative we are”? “We bet you can’t use Flash as well as we can use Flash”?

Websites are communication tools that should be designed to deliver the right message to the right audience in the right way. It shouldn’t be the Speed Racer movie of websites—no plot but more than its share of really bright special effects. Before pulling Flash out of your toolbox, make sure you’ve given thought to your audience and what you want them to do when they come to your site. If Flash will help them do what you want, then use it. Otherwise think of something else that will be effective.

No comments:

Post a Comment