I realize that the title of this post is a very wide and sweeping claim, but hear me out – I have quite a few good reasons for why I hate Macromedia Flash-based websites. I don’t think I have always disliked Flash, but lately the hatred has grown. There are just so many things to hate:
- Flash websites go against the true nature of the Web! This point will probably be the easiest to disagree with, but it’s also a more subtle point. How does the web work? You basically move along by clicking on hyperlinks, from page to page and site to site. What happens if you want to go back to a certain page? You can enter a URI, you can use a back button, or a bookmark, lots of ways. Flash breaks this functionality! You can’t really link to a “part” of a Flash site. Sure you can click links out of the Flash, but they aren’t standard links either – they are not picked up by link crawlers, and they don’t conform to the display standards set in your browser. You don’t always notice this, but it drives me nuts when you need to actually interact with links in a “normal” fashion.
- Flash sites are slow and take forever to load! Basically when I load a Flash website, and see some sort of progress bar or percentage, the website is saying to me “I think I’m so great you’re going to have to wait until I am good and ready to be displayed!” What the heck is that? When I visit a web page, I want the page to load, not the entire site! And Flash sites that show the progress bar just for looks piss me off even more. I have high speed for a reason morons!
- Flash sites require you to learn a new interface each time! I admit, this point is also sort of easy to argue against, but think about it. How different are HTML-based websites? Really different? Not really. They typically all have some sort of textual or graphical menu along the top or one of the sides. Almost all of these websites are fairly similar in the way you navigate them. Flash sites on the other hand are completely different! Some sites want to you click different objects in a 3D world, others have pictures with no words. The links are often scattered around the Flash animation which means I have to hunt around. And the most annoying part of Flash navigation is that often times you click a menu item, only to be shown a submenu with no way to get back to the original menu! It’s frustrating to say the least.
- Flash sites don’t “fit” my screen! Most websites will resize depending on how big or small my browser is, and how large or small my screen’s resolution is. Not so with Flash sites! Almost every Flash site I have come across has a set size, and too bad if your screen/browser size doesn’t work out.
Those are the main things that bug me about Flash sites – as you can see, they are pretty logical and straightforward. There’s some other minor things that get under my skin too:
- Lots of Flash sites don’t have a text-only or HTML-only equivalent!
- Why must every musician or band in the world have a difficult to use Flash site?
- Most of the time trying to copy text from a Flash animation is impossible.
- I realize it’s hard to get a browser that doesn’t have Flash, but requiring a user to install a plugin to see any of a website is kind of dumb, Flash or not.
I really don’t care how good you think Flash will make a website look. I’d take usability over looks any day (with very, very few exceptions), and that’s really why I hate Flash sites.