Recently I came across Jakob Nielsen's article "Flash: 99% Bad." The web-usability guru writes: "Although multimedia has its role on the Web, current Flash technology tends to discourage usability for three reasons: it makes bad design more likely, it breaks with the Web's fundamental interaction style, and it consumes resources that would be better spent enhancing a site's core value."
Far be it from me to challenge the esteemed wisdom of one of the leaders in current web design. But, unfortunately, this sort of negativity, particularly as it relates to online advertising creative at a time when the entire industry is taking a big hit, is unwelcome and invites comment.
In many cases, usability is a slippery slope when developing engaging and informative experiences on the web. On one hand, the freedom Flash gives designers CAN break the web's fundamental interaction style; on the other hand, that's not always such a bad thing. Below, I'd like to comment on some usability issues that Nielsen raises in his article.
As always, Nielsen raises some very relevant points regarding the usability issues that arise with the freedom Flash allows for designers. As well, advertising is no more restricted by "Webster's" dictionary as it is restricted by Nielsen's www.useit.com teachings.
Usability is one of the factors a designer has to take into account, as well as creating engaging online advertising creative, fulfilling the marketing strategy, and connecting with consumers on an emotional as well as intellectual level. For this reason, and the fact that, for now, Flash seems to be the most stable and flexible tool for creating rich media from scratch on the web, I believe Flash is 99% better than anything else for creating high-impact web advertising.
One has to respect the importance of usability on the web. I'll be the first to admit poor web design can discourage users quicker than anything else. At the same time, progress is a necessity. We haven't reached a plateau in the slightest with bigger bandwidth, and the proliferation of improved web technologies means that the web hasn't settled into any meaningful "fundamental interaction style."
One might suggest that creating a uniquely engaging experience for a user is a method of enhancing a site's core value. What frustrates me the most is that intelligent and influential people are cutting us all off at the knees at a time when people in the know should be rallying to the web and promoting present opportunities and the possibilities the future holds.
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Adam Jackson is a freelance Art Director in New York City. He has worked on top brands for several interactive ad agencies and with some of the top Internet marketing minds. He has worked with Sony, Lockheed-Martin, Best Buy, Ameritrade, Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, IBM, Valvoline, Monster.com, and a host of blue-chip Canadian brands. With five years of industry experience, and a few awards, Adam's career has grown with the Web.
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