Why isn’t Flash the best platform for an interactive agency to present their work? If you look around these days it seems that all of the leading interactive agencies (from my perspective in NYC) are switching over their Flash sites to rich-but-not-flash sites (AJAX, XHTML, etc.). I did it. A lot of my designer friends’ did it. But why? Have we, as rich-media/interactive/digital designers, fallen out of love with the once dominant platform? I kind of have, and I think my reasons are the same as the interactive powerhouses pictured above. It essentially boils down to the ability to tell and share your story.
Because of the fragmented-by-design digital footprints we leave, aggregating posts, shouts, tweets, images and videos into one filtered and cohesive experience is extremely important to tell a story. It’s beneficial to share not only your experiences (as an agency/agency employee) but also to show the impact of your work (think CP+B). Flash does not do this well. If I want to fire off a quick news item or blog post highlighting a YouTube video of someone using a product I designed or a testimonial of customer-impact of a campaign I executed, I’d have to write that explicit use-case into the framework of the Flash portfolio site I’m executing. Not so with HTML – the web 2.0 APIs are already there by design. Therefore executing an agency’s portfolio site in HTML assures that no matter what new platform or API takes hold, snipptes, widgets, blogrolls and cross-links can always be sucked in.
I also think that how something is executed should tell a lot about what the thing is. It has to do with tone-of-voice as it relates the platform (not just the design). And with a Flash portfolio, seeing the load bar, the user’s first impression is to prepare for something. It’s loading. Wait for it. It’s gonna be dope. But portfolio sites should be simple and easily understandable. Your work should showcase all of the richness you claim to be able to deliver, the site need not be a portfolio piece in of itself. And while the user is waiting for the thing to animate and initialize itself, the user has to make a mental commitment to go on the ride that you’ve prepared for them. You’re asking something of them. Whereas an HTML site doesn’t carry with it that sense of commitment. I never thought I’d advocate this, especially considering the numerous Flash portfolios I’ve executed for myself over the years, but right now – where interactive is at – Flash is out.