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Technology vs. Usability

When JV Media Design was formed, the year was 1995 and the Internet was a very different place than it is today.

The first websites we created used simple layouts, a modest amount of graphics, standard "web safe" colors, and no javascript. This was all done in an attempt to create websites that worked well with the browsers of the time (namely, Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator).

As the years went by, technology rapidly changed, and so did the web. Soon enough, javascript was standard procedure to create "roll over" effects on buttons, to scroll text, and lots more. Web pages got more graphically intense, and using audio and Flash was a brand new frontier.

Ten years have now passed and keeping up with the technology and trends is still a major priority for us. When it was once unheard of to include Flash in web pages, it is now become standard practice. But there is such a thing as "too much of a good thing".

We strive to create web pages that blend technologies together to create the best user experience. When it was once accepted to incorporate a Flash "splash" page on a site, it is now looked upon as an extraneous step that most visitors will click through. Attention spans have shortened to a mere matter of seconds on the web, and putting your uses through a Flashy presentation just to have a "wow" factor can be more detrimental than beneficial.

So the main factor in considering Flash technology for your website is: "will it enhance my website?" In order to answer this question you must consider your target market. For instance, you are a rock band. You need to convey a certain "image" and your design can be more creative and exciting than if you are a Real Estate Agent. Try surfing the web and see what others have done with their sites. Also, your designer should be able to guide you in what will work and what will not.

Keep in mind that there is still a large enough percentage of Internet users accessing the web at "dial up" speeds. If you do choose to utilize Flash, make sure you do not lose potential visitors by making them wait through a long, boring loading screen. Most people surf the web to access information. Just because you can design a very complicated Flash presentation, doesn't mean that you should.

If you have any questions, we would be happy to help you out!

Sherry Holub received her BA in studio art from UCLA in 1995 and is the Lead Designer and Manager at Southern California firm, JV Media Design. http://www.jvmediadesign.com

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