Tag Archives: industry

Flash No More


Barbairan Group, Fantasy Interactive, Huge, Big Spaceship, R/GA and Organic all have non-flash sites.

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.

With and all-Flash site you can certainly tell a story effectively. The level of interactivity and immersion draws the user into the experience like no other rich media platform. But doing so asks a lot of the user from a time perspective: transitions, load times, learning to interact with new paradigms, etc. Now with all of the open source javaScript tool-kits out there you can achieve a decent level of immersion and interactivity with little negative impact to the user from a time and learnability standpoint. So with an HMTL portfolio site you have most of the immersion with little or no negative impact. It’s a safer choice.

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.

Holy Mother of Recap

When going to a trade-show it’s natural to feel hyped about the products on display. Every car show I go to I leave convinced that now is the right time to buy that 2-seater I’ve always wanted – but it never is – it’s just the hype. Trade shows have been honing the craft of making you want what they’re hocking for years and they’re quite adept at it. The thing is, Adobe MAX was a little different. Of course I left wanting to run out and buy CS4, but not for shop-therapy or wanting something shiny or new.

When Apple launched their new Mac Books I wanted a new one – for about a minute. Then I looked down at my year-old MacBook with 4 gigs of RAM and thought how silly wanting a new one was when the one I have is bad-ass. Not the case with CS4. There are actually new tools to be used, new and easier workflows for creation and faster performance. We live in Adobe products and we make our livelihoods using their tools. Upgrades are key. The following is my recap of my thoughts at Adobe MAX this year:
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Preventing Future Beach-balls

“Shit the beach-ball!” I exclaimed. “I ‘got it too”, I heard from across the studio.

We might as well brew a pot of coffee – we’ll be here a while.

Adobe has made great strides in recent years to eliminate application crashes in their Mac suite of applications. Remember running CS/CS2 in Rosetta and Illustrator simply shutting off when you used the pathfinder – and viola you’re back at the desktop and out an hour of work because you forgot to Apple-S? Ya well Adobe on Macs is about where it was on PCs under CS1 – your machine will think really hard for a really long time – you may lose fidelity in your OS GUI – meaning some panels will go white and not refresh until Adobe is done thinking – but 99 times out of 100, if you wait long enough, the application will recover.

Back to the studio…
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This is Not a Manifesto

The problem with advertising is that it’s only goal is to get in my way – to act as an obstruction between me and the media I want. Probably because Ad Agencies know by doing that I have to pay attention to their ads. If advertising had a human age and development level it’d be a 9-year old boy. I wonder what that 9-year old boy will do when he realizes that through Media On Demand services like TiVo, Sling Box, Joost, You Tube, TV on DVD, iTunes, et. al. he is being ignored because, despite his efforts, he isn’t obstructing anything anymore. That shiny jewel of media he is standing in front of, blocking while screaming at the top of his lungs for us to buy a new Chevrolet with zero percent down, is being given away for free somewhere else with no gatekeepers or conditions to its viewing. Will advertisers/ing grow up now that they’re faced with the threat of irrelevance?

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