Still Hating Flash (sometimes…)

Things I hate about (poorly built) Flash sites: you can’t select the text, you can’t resize the text, my scrollwheel does not work, the controls are too small, I can’t open links in a new tab/window… Basically, I hate losing all the features I am used to my browser having with an HTML site…

Crappy Flash Site I sort of feel like even if it is a crappy HTML site, at least I can still control things like the browser’s scrollbar, or the size of the text, or how links open, and my scrollwheel works! So many (crappy) Flash sites still feel like the author wants complete control over my experience, and they think they know better than everyone else what is good for you. I hate those people. Ok, I don’t really hate them, but I feel like they hate me, or at least they don’t trust me. Argh…..


Big Media: We can’t link to you…

I first mentioned the Blogging Summit put on by local broadcasters WTMJ 620 on June 12th, 2007 in a post title Citizen Blogging Summit.

The Summit was on June 14, 2007, and I recapped in a post title Citizen Blogging Summit Report.

There is a very good chance that in a few years, those links will still work. There are links to this site that still work nearly 10 years after I first created them. There’s an old saying: Cool URIs don’t change. WTMJ 620 doesn’t get that.

When we were at the Summit, someone mentioned they were re-launching their site in the next few days. The second I heard this, I was pretty sure all the bloggers they invited, who actually linked to the Summit page, would have dead links within a week. I was right.

I’m really hoping they fix this, but as of right now, links to get a 404.

And there are links pointing there. I mean, we’re bloggers! You invite us to talk about something, and we will, by linking to it. Will I link to anything on again? I don’t know, since there is a good chance it’ll disappear with the next web site re-design.

I might just be a little sensitive about this issue because I’m in the middle of doing some URL re-writing for a site that just underwent a major rebuild. But really, is a permalink so much to ask for? Honestly, I’m pretty disappointed. Just when you think someone is starting to get it, they let you down.


Web 2.something Conference

I was approached by someone in Milwaukee about helping out with a “Web 2.0” style conference, and the first thought I had was, what would we call it?

I mean, it would be about “Web 2.0” style technology and applications, but can we use the term “Web 2.0”? Do we have to ask Tim or CMP or a lawyer?

I think having a “Web 2.0” conference in Milwaukee is a great idea, and has amazing potential, but being able to promote it and talk about it may be difficult if we have to avoid actually using the term “Web 2.0”


Milwaukee Design Firms, Bad Web Sites…

I spent some time evaluating the web sites of some Milwaukee design firms, and I’ve gotta say, I was sadly disappointed. I do not want to name names, because I’m going to discuss actual trends rather than specific issues. (Plus, I know people at many of these companies, and to be fair, I should disclose that I do work for at least two design firms in the area.)

Also, if you have not read my posts on Business Web Site tips, you may want to see them now: #253, #267, #271, #285, #301. Many of them apply…

The overall trends I saw were the following:

  • Inability to print pages/content
  • Inability to resize or select text
  • Inability to open multiple windows/tabs due to navigation using Flash
  • Music playing on page load (with no way to stop it)
  • Text as an image, or within Flash, which does not get indexed by search engines

Overall, many of the problems of poor usability were caused by Flash. (I know, I have a history of being somewhat anti-Flash, but so often Flash is anti-usability, so it all works out.) Many of the sites I evaluated had just one or two results in Google, which is probably not ideal for companies that want potential clients to find them.

To be fair, I know many design firms end up not overhauling their sites for a long time because they are too busy doing client work, but honestly, most of them looked like graphic or visual designers with no background in usability designed them.

Milwaukee design firms, it may be time for a reboot…


Web414 Begins…

Back in May I attended a Milwaukee Web Design Meetup, and found out there was a small but dedicated group of people in the Milwaukee area interested in getting together and discussing the building of the web.

Then in October we had BarCampMilwaukee and came to realize that maybe there are more people out there interested in web design & development. I think a lot of us wanted to see the BarCamp spirit carry on to other things, and I think that’s one of the basic ideas behind Web414.

Web414 will be replacing the Milwaukee Web Design Meetup group in 2007. We’re hoping all members make the move with us, but we are also hoping to expand and welcome new people. Freelancers, designers, developers, usability folks, anyone interested in the future of the web and making it happen.

The site at is still in it’s early stages, but you can sign up now to follow what we are doing. (And if you’re more of a traditional designer, there’s always Design414.)

So if you’re interested, join us December 14th, 2006 to discuss the future of the group.