Flash Usability Metrics

28 Feb 2007 - 10:56am
7 years ago
10 replies
1053 reads
Angela Azzolino
2005

Hello all,
My colleague posed this question to me the other day.

Do you know where I might be able to get stats on Flash Usability (ex:
advantages or disadvantages of have a website totally in flash)?

I thought the best answers would come from this group. Any suggestions,
resources, etc. are greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

Comments

28 Feb 2007 - 11:01am
Dave Malouf
2005

There was an early RIA study that looked at Broadmoor and iHotelier
done by UIE when Macromedia first through out the RIA term.

It isn't very timely.

I personally find that "technology" is not a usability issue, but how
that technology is applied.

What might be useful to understand is how using a non-HTML-based
technology like Flash specifically has caused problems in distribution
and deployment from an end-user perspective. Outside of this there is
NOTHING explicit in the technology of Flash that should cause
usability problems in and of itself.

Now there can be patterns that are promoted more in Flash than are in
HTML and those patterns can exist in Flash better than HTML and thus
have improvments or problems associated with them. Or designers have
trended towards specific patterns of design b/c of the properties of
the technology of Flash (vector based, different sets of controls)
that may led to enhancements and problems. But this is about Flash as
an IDE more than Flash as a distribution platform.

-- dave

On 2/28/07, Angela Azzolino <landshark at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hello all,
> My colleague posed this question to me the other day.
>
> Do you know where I might be able to get stats on Flash Usability (ex:
> advantages or disadvantages of have a website totally in flash)?
>
> I thought the best answers would come from this group. Any suggestions,
> resources, etc. are greatly appreciated.
>
> Thanks!
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
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>

--
David Malouf
http://synapticburn.com/
http://ixda.org/
http://motorola.com/

28 Feb 2007 - 11:26am
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> What might be useful to understand is how using a non-HTML-based
> technology like Flash specifically has caused problems in distribution
> and deployment from an end-user perspective. Outside of this there is
> NOTHING explicit in the technology of Flash that should cause
> usability problems in and of itself.

There are certainly some accessibility issues with using Flash, so
keep that in mind. It takes some work to get Flash apps and sites to
play nice with screen readers.

I did a course for Lynda.com called Flash User Experience Best
Practices that could be helpful for you. It's here:

http://movielibrary.lynda.com/html/modPage.asp?ID=181

-r-

28 Feb 2007 - 12:01pm
bhekking
2006

> Outside of this there is
> NOTHING explicit in the technology of Flash that should cause
> usability problems in and of itself.
In my grad. school class last night, several teams (mine included) presented
expert reviews of Flash-based sites. These are the issues we all found that
were, near as we could tell, intrinsic to the use of Flash:
- Browser back and forward don't behave as expected, i.e. 'back' takes tyou to
the previous website, not the previous 'page'. I suspect that is b/c Flash
navigation is not stored in browser history.
- Browser print often did not work
- Browser refresh took users back to the homepage (that is, it 'restarted' the
Flash animation, regardless of how far along users had moved along their path)
...and I'm sure there are more.

So, one question is, when using Flash, is there a way to work around these
issues?

- Bret Hekking

____________________________________________________________________________________
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28 Feb 2007 - 12:25pm
lachica
2006

My first concern would be SEO. Flash can make a very pretty site but it
doesn't do you any good if people can't find it. I have some links on this
bookmarked here:
http://del.icio.us/cartographic/flash

These links are from last year and some things may have changed since then.

Thanks,
Julie

On 2/28/07, Angela Azzolino < landshark at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> Hello all,
> My colleague posed this question to me the other day.
>
> Do you know where I might be able to get stats on Flash Usability (ex:
> advantages or disadvantages of have a website totally in flash)?
>
> I thought the best answers would come from this group. Any suggestions,
> resources, etc. are greatly appreciated.
>
> Thanks!
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

28 Feb 2007 - 12:48pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> - Browser back and forward don't behave as expected, i.e. 'back' takes tyou to
> the previous website, not the previous 'page'. I suspect that is b/c Flash
> navigation is not stored in browser history.

There is a workaround for this that involves using a hidden iFrame in
the parent page that re/loads an empty HTML file when the Flash movie
changes states (yes, you have to code this) to generate browser
history.

> - Browser print often did not work

Also needs to be planned by the developer.

Add to this list that the contextual (right-click) menu isn't the same
as the browser's menu.

-r-

28 Feb 2007 - 12:56pm
Jason Brush
2007

> So, one question is, when using Flash, is there a way to work
> around these issues?

All of the issues you mention — the browser back button and printing
in addition to the SEO concerns that Julie raises — can be addressed,
mostly through the use of JavaScript. The main issues here are often
that: 1) developers lack of expertise in the appropriate techniques;
and 2) the project's timeline and budget don't allow these issues to
be addressed.

Often, we make the mistake of assuming that developing applications
in HTML will necessarily ensure that these important usability needs
are met; however, with AJAX-driven sites, these same concerns also
need to be addressed.

**
Jason Brush
SVP, User Experience
Schematic
http://www.schematic.com

28 Feb 2007 - 1:43pm
jayhilwig
2006

Mostly on topic recent article:
http://www.alistapart.com/articles/semanticflash

*****************************************************
TITLE: Semantic Flash: Slippery When Wet

LEAD PARAGRAPH: "There's a belief within the web standards community that
Flash is part of a different world. While all approaches have limitations
and drawbacks, Flash has been scorned to the point that many refuse to
acknowledge its benefits. Ultimately, this has led to the creation of a
virtual separation among web designers; those who use Flash use it
exclusively (leading to a saturation of full-screen, "Skip Intro"-rich Flash
sites on the web) and those who don't ever give it a second thought."

AUTHOR: Dan Mall
****************************

1 Mar 2007 - 8:04am
msweeny
2006

Good Morning All,

I'm not sure that I would mention Jscript as a solution for anything SEO
related as it has SEO issues of its own. [Although there is a rumor that the
Google Big Daddy update late last year might have included a new type of
spider that can crawl into Jscript and also Flash].

It is possible to optimize Flash in a variety of ways. The two most
prominent, and both deployed on my firm's website are:
1) build a straight "meat and potatoes" HTML version of the content
represented in the Flash app and
2) use HTML coded metadata visible to the spider on the page that launches
the Flash app
[http://blog.deconcept.com/2006/03/13/modern-approach-flash-seo/]

Both of these are low bandwidth options that should not negatively impact
the project schedule or the budget.

marianne

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Jason
Brush
Sent: Wednesday, February 28, 2007 10:56 AM
To: Bret Hekking
Cc: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Flash Usability Metrics

> So, one question is, when using Flash, is there a way to work
> around these issues?

All of the issues you mention - the browser back button and printing
in addition to the SEO concerns that Julie raises - can be addressed,
mostly through the use of JavaScript. The main issues here are often
that: 1) developers lack of expertise in the appropriate techniques;
and 2) the project's timeline and budget don't allow these issues to
be addressed.

Often, we make the mistake of assuming that developing applications
in HTML will necessarily ensure that these important usability needs
are met; however, with AJAX-driven sites, these same concerns also
need to be addressed.

**
Jason Brush
SVP, User Experience
Schematic
http://www.schematic.com
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
(Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org

1 Mar 2007 - 8:41am
Jason Brush
2007

> I'm not sure that I would mention Jscript as a solution for
> anything SEO
> related as it has SEO issues of its own.
I should have been more clear on this point. I'm referring to the
technique where as standards-compliant, search-engine-indexable XHTML
is replaced by a Flash object JavaScript on page load. This is the
same technique that you list below. (As it happens, I work with Geoff
Stearns who's blog you cite.)

> Both of these are low bandwidth options that should not negatively
> impact
> the project schedule or the budget.

On this point, I have to disagree. If alternate content is built out
for an entire site or application — which would be appropriate if all
content needs to be made indexable and accessible — that means
building two parallel presentation layers, which can be quite time-
consuming and expensive if duplicating complex functionality in HTML
that is already taking a lot of time to develop in Flash.

All of this aside, you're totally right: any statement linking
JavaScript with SEO (or usability, or accessiblity) needs to be
approached with the same caution as such statements vis-a-vis Flash.

**
Jason Brush
SVP, User Experience Design
Schematic

8 Jun 2007 - 11:46am
daniele galiffa
2007

Hello,
there an Italian online magazine focusing on flash usability that is http://flashability.it/.

I hope it helps,

d.

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