One of the services that we offer is website development. As a result, we spend a lot of time looking at websites and website design to keep in touch with new ideas and ways of communicating a company’s business value offering.
I was looking at websites from engineering companies, and was shocked at how BAD most of them are. I don’t mean the “hey, I’ve got a copy of iWeb/FrontPage/Whatever and can save my company money by knocking together a website myself” type of company website. No, I mean the situation where a company has approached a web design firm and spent serious folding for a integrated and co-ordinated web presence.
So why do so many website designers insist on Flash-only websites?
As soon as I hit a Flash-only website, and see that spinning clock while the content loads, my face drops.
I then get bombarded with a totally useless and unnecessary “intro”, my browser window gets blown-up to full size, I get window scrollbars that don’t work as you think they do (certainly not with the up/down arrow keys of my keyboard) and I’m forced to read light grey 7 point text against a (only slightly lighter) grey background. It’s all form without a trace of function.
Yes, Flash may well be installed on the majority of computers out there, but that doesn’t mean that it is necessarily the best medium for communication. Many website visitors like to print out webpages (no, I don’t know why either, but it’s a fact) while the vast majority of Flash sites don’t print.
Some corporate IT admins keep Flash off their client machines and prevent users downloading/installing applets for reasons of security.
Flash doesn’t (usually) play nicely with search engines, doesn’t help web viewers with visual deficiencies and usually isn’t W3C compliant.
Apple’s iPhone, arguably the single most significant development in wireless devices to date, doesn’t render Flash sites at all.
Plus there’s the real risk of a web designer sticking in all those pointless animations and unfamiliar navigation menus in there so that no-one notices that the point of the website – the clear communication of the value offering – is lost.