A Short Rant On Usability

Flash Fail - a rant on usability
While doing some research for a blog post last night I came upon several flash websites that set off my usability radar. When I’m looking at a portfolio website (or any website really) I want to be able to find the information im looking for quickly and easily. I have condensed this rant down to 7 reasons why flash websites tend to suck.

Not all flash sites are bad!!!

Let me say this first: flash has its appropriate time and place. Video, animated cartoons, motion design, Video Tours ETC. Other than these situations I think its just unessicary internet ‘Bling‘. I should also note that the things I complain about below can be properly avoided in flash (probably with some actionscripting)…its just that most of the sites that utilize flash dont!

1 Hidden or non standard Navigation

Hidden or non standard navigation


Everything on this website moves corresponding to mouse movements. I didnt expect this at first and after tryign to click on the portfolio section I got frustrated and left the site. Granted the site does have a (hidden) standard navigation up top, but i didnt notice it until after I got motion sickness and promptly left the site.


2 Uneeded Complexity


The structure of this website is so complex that I highly doubt the studios target audience would understand how to navigate it.  When designing user interfaces we should all stick to the #1 rule: KISS: Keep it SIMPLE stupid!

3 Scrolling


This probably just a minor issue as I have not seen many all flash sites with scrollbars. When viewing this website from my macbook pro I tried to use my two finger scroll on my trackpad only to find out that i had to manually drag the scroll bar down. Users should be able to effortlessly scroll through and browse a website.

4 Linking 

When all flash websites utilze the whole site in one flash file – how am I supposed to link to a specific page or piece of work? This is especially dangerous with websites that feature specific artworks. 

5 Unnecessary Animation


Unless you work in the realm of animation or motion design dont make stuff fly around on the screen! If the animation does not add anything to your portfolio get rid of it!!! Nothing is worse than seeing a lovely print portfolio ruined by the portfolio pieces flying all over the screen. 

6 Browser Resizing, or Full Screen Popups


This is another huge, Huge, HUGE no-no that flash sites tend to do: Hijacking my browser! If your site needs to resize my browser, or pop up in a new window i’m going to close the window and leave. One of the difficult challenges of designing for the web is making it look good at different sizes. If your website can not accommodate different browser window sizes then you probably need to re-think your design. As for pop-ups: they are just annoying and get blocked most times anyways (for the informed Firefox users!).

7 Non-Selectable Text


Text on the web needs to be selectable. Users will want to copy and paste and send your valuable information to others. Why prevent them from doing this? Now I know this problem can easily be fixed in flash, but its so often overlooked!

What Do YOU think?

Do you love flash? Think its the best thing since sliced bread? Chime in and tell me why I’m wrong :) Agree with me? Have some other things you’d like to rant about? Leave a comment and rant away!