back to article Forget Flash – content is king

My story begins with a blizzard. This blizzard dumped over a metre-and-a-half of snow on my hometown. This being Edmonton in the winter, we’re fairly used to this sort of thing. Those with big, heavy cars drive them into a road-shoulder snowbank and make their own parking spots. Those with smaller cars park behind them. My …


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  1. Steve Renouf
    Thumb Up


    Brother. I'm with you!

    1. 4.1.3_U1

      I'm not with you

      Being a sysadmin, when my wife's car needed fixing last month (power steering and brakes causing trouble in this case), I called my local wreckers / car repairers and booked the car in, then dropped it off with them later in the week. Next day they called me and said they'd found the parts needed in another wreckers on the other side of the country (not Canada, but quite large anyway) using some no doubt similar website to the one you found after about a week's worth of digging. They told me how much it was going to cost, got the parts and fixed the car.

      End result, I did a week's worth of sysadmin tasks and don't even know the name of the website, or whether it uses flash.

  2. Michael 35

    Lame apple fanboy

    who cares about this is a non story. Flash is needed for a full internet experience at this moment in time.

    It will change or die as web standards develop but at the moment you are a flash denier.

    The rise of android will wipe the smug grins of all the apple fans

    1. M Gale

      Commtiva N700

      Froyo, multitouch, seven inch screen, marketplace app. What it doesn't have is a >800Mhz CPU, so no Flash for me. Not that it matters since there's plenty of free and cheap games on the market.

      Anyway, I think you fail at the point of the article. Gimmickry is all well and good but this is the web, not some walled-off orchard. If your gimmickry gets in the way of the purpose of your site then you fail at usability and usefulness.

    2. Fluffykins Silver badge

      "Full Internet Experience"

      I have used commercial sites with Flash and sites without Flash. As a general rule of thumb, the more Flash content there is, the fouller the "Internet Experience" becomes.

      You sit there while several hundred kB of some marketing driod's notion of what you find appealing grinds out of a server and wings its way down to you with a nice, reassuring downloading animation.

      Eventually the edifice plays and you realise that, no, it's not any relevant infomration, it's just a landing page with a hapless animation about just how marvellous the latest promotion is.

      One of the worst offenders is the motor industry. In the end I siimply gave up with the nice, glossy flash based marketing tripe that passses for real, usable product information. It was so slow, so unpleasant.

      Please, PLEASE PL f-ing EASE, less Flash/Silverlight and the like.

      Let's have a "Full Internet Experience" by all means, but lets make it a pleasant one: Nice, tidy HTML; no bloody flash ads, no bloody Flash promos, gimmicks and the like; no mindless marketing; no web 2.0 hrea.

      DO tell me clearly and succinctly about the product. DON'T show me dumb your marketing department is.

    3. Fluffykins Silver badge

      Went and had a look at the site.

      That's EXACTLY what I'd want. Straightforward, simple and what I'd hope to find as a pretty damn good Internet Experience.

      You can stick flash


    4. My Alter Ego

      Re: Lame apple fanboy

      Huh? I had to go back and search the article for "Apple" and "Android", and found no matches. Flash has it places, but not for simple menu systems & searches, for that all you need is the hover class & a html form.

      I for one think this is a story, as anything that tells people to stop making bloated flashy websites with fuck all content is good.

      "Flash is needed for a full internet experience at this moment in time.", not for me, I use the flashblock* extension in Firefox, that way I get no flashing adverts annoying the hell out of me. Very few websites actually require flash for a "full experience", those that do tend to get neither my attention nor custom.

      * I don't use addblock because I don't hate adds, just flashing punch the monkey ones.

      Note: As an Android user & developer, you're as rabid a fanboy as the Apple fanboys you take issue with.

    5. CD001


      Please, don't feed the trolls.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I have to disagree

      Flash is a right royal pain in the arse.

      In my experience, it is a way of serving up content slower, in a more irritating way, with things taking several seconds to expand and move about to where they are finally going to settle and to let you click on them, with you unable to get to the content you want until the designer's frilly scrolly, zoomy, transparent, kew-ul window has finished his artistic dithering fade in and expand (to the same size often).

      I don't care, I just want the content.

      I just went to look at the Audi magazine - all in flash. It took nearly 10 seconds to load up, and when it had finished, there was just a picture of a car which shimmied onto the screen, and just 2 things that could be clicked on. I clicked on one - the spinning wheel started - I got to 11 seconds and closed the browser. I can't be arsed. If you have my attention for 20 seconds and you have still not managed to get one single thing across to me apart from how slow your window zooms are - it's a lost sale. I haven't come to watch the kew-ul graphics, I have come to find out about your business.

      Sorry, just my opinion. I agree with the author, give me the content - you go and watch your zooming expanding windows with the kids, and I'll buy from your competitor who is happy to tell me what I want and not think I will be overwhelmed with the pretty pictures.

  3. M Gale


    Gimmickry on a web site is all well and good, but if it gets in the way of using the site it might as well not be there.

    For all the negative things you can say about Google's Eye-o-Sauron tech, their front page continues to serve as an example of how to do search. Nice big text box and a go button.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    ... so how much of a discount did you get from them for writing this? ;)

    Although I will believe you if you said none and are just promoting for the good of the people, happy that they might not spend the week looking for parts.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge


      I am not sure sells anything. At elast to me. (I don't work for a car shop.) I would have to look further, but suspect they only really sell the "service" to car shops who want to register thier inventories online.

      Thus: nothing. There's nothing to pay for if you are just a dude searching for a transmission. ;) Although, that brings up a point: I should totally go find out who actually runs that site and let them know I wrote an article. I usually do that after it's published, but I got distracted trying to find a shop here in the city that would actually /install/ the transmission...

  5. Chris Miller

    Only in North America

    Would a Toyota Camry be considered a 'small' car.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      I drive a Scion XB

      I think around here it's qualified as "a boxy go-cart with a plastic couch on the front." When >50% of folks in your province drive pickup trucks, (and a Ford F-150 is a "starter" truck,) then yes, a Camry is small. Most people have pickups or SUVs 'round here. People with sedans or smaller are driving small cars.

      I drive my little Kleenex box around, with my head touching the roof (46" of headroom, and I still have to bend my neck.) I can tell you that thanks to her low ground clearance and general sub-compact sizing, I am generally terrified all the time whilst driving. everything around me is three times my size. Nobody can see me on the road, their are SITTING at about the same level as my SHOULDERS.

      Let me tell you though; when you are toodling around in an F-350 with raised shocks and a big old cowcatcher on the front, you make your own parking spots in the winter. It’s a very Albertan thing to do.

  6. Mage Silver badge


    Pope Catholic: Check

    Bears in Wood: Check

    Content is what makes a web site useful, Flash, H.264, Silverlight: Just containers. Need useful content: Check

    Is there a story here?

  7. Pete 2 Silver badge

    If content is king

    Then search ranking must be power behind the throne.

    The basic problem with search engines (and by that I mean Google, none of the others really matter in the english-speaking world) is that they rank sites based on their popularity. You can have the world's most authoritative source of information, but if no-one knows about it, then no-one will link to it and the crawlers that our sites live or die by will note that and it will be lost in the noise - on page two of the search results (which with Google Instant, means outside the top 10). Once it disappears from the only place that 95% of people will look, it simply becomes invisible, and will never get the visits or links to improve its position ...

    Now there are plenty of strategies for bootstrapping yourself - and (I'm told by their creators) that a few of them might even work. The difficulty is having the webmeisterly knowledge to separate the sump-oil from the antifreeze and be able to judge which ones will produce results and which ones will just take your money. Especially when the odds are stacked against finding truth as opposed to beauty.

    So while a lot of companies have reached the conclusion that "everyone has to have a website these days, so we'd better have one too", most of them - the ones that are NOT household names, are getting next to no benefit from it. For most, the only traffic their sites generate are sales calls and SPAM from people promising to get them into the top rankings. Maybe that's where the money really lies.

  8. Tom 7

    Flash is needed?

    for a full internet experience at this moment in time.?????

    No it isnt - its just another layer of shit that gets in the way of commerce. 99.99% of the time I buy something I dont want a flash experience I just want to buy the sodding product. Thats why I've got to that part of your website.

    Unless you regard the Web as merely being there to waste my time and provide employment for people who can make prevarication pretty.

    Flash seems to be like these baggage handlers at 3rd world airports who spend more time loading your bags onto a trolley than it would take you to wheel your bag the three yards to the taxi rank...

  9. eJ2095

    I Agree

    Rather have the info i require on a site then flashy Flash (Cool pun eh)

    Hate having to mess about looking for stuff..

    Not sure if Google Trawls Flash anyway (Lazy web people not doing keywords and meta data)

    1. CD001


      Hmmm meta keywords? They were abandoned in about 2000 when the search engines realised everyone was gaming them? IIRC about the only Search Engine that pays ANY attention to them (and it's only a small part of how they rank their results) is Bing.

      Meta descriptions are still useful (if under 150 characters) for creating the additional information that appears with a search result.

      That doesn't make Flash any more useful for Search Engines or Screen Readers of course - good semantic markup is what it's all about (and "respectable" links to your site).

  10. Chris Eaton
    Thumb Up

    Flash?Do you want some crayons with that?

    I had EXACTLY the same experience looking for a cylinder head for my Aprilia scooter.All the parts sites used identical databases and really similar pricing too which was a little annoying when you are paying for such an expensive part.

    Reference materials are one of the most powerful uses for the internet - I have no idea why one of the commenters above would say non-story;it isnt all about making money from traffic,some sites are too specific to need that stuff

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Oh my god...

    I almost went blind from the flash of the fcuking obvious.

    Quite often things are done like they are because it works, with everything, everywhere, everywhen - first rule of 'it works' is dont fix it.

    Welcome to the real world of computers, read this and compare -

  12. Harry
    Thumb Down

    "Flash is needed"

    Total nonsense. Flash is *almost* not needed at all -- which is why many people install flashblock to get rid of it.

    90% of flash content is adverts anyway, and 90% of the other 10% is pure and unnecessary distraction.

    Even sites that say they "require flash" don't really require flash. What most of them *really* require is a new webmaster capable of understanding what their users really need.

    But if the author of flashblock happens to be listening ... how about expanding it to block those nasty jCarousel annoyances that are appearing on umpteen websites.

  13. The Unexpected Bill

    All of you who are busily thinking this is obvious...

    You'd be right, except it's not. One would think that designing a web site whose goal is to simply provide information in a reasonable format would not be hard. I guess it is. Really. Take a look around.

    Don't get me started on Google. I remember when Google search results were more useful than they are today. Today, it seems like everyone is gaming Google to get their irrelevant and stupid search results put up first. Sadly, it's working. The real information--if it ever shows up--might not even be on the first page any longer. Other search engines suffer largely the same problem or don't index as deeply as Google does (meaning they don't even give you the chance of finding a buried gem). Want to prove the point? Do a web search on a random integrated circuit and look at the heaps of useless pages that usually are returned.

    Having used car-part/car-parts in the past, I can say that while their site is spare, it's also quite functional. And chances are very good that if a part was ever on a car, either new or old, you WILL find it there. That carries a great deal more weight with me than flashy presentation (with or without actual Flush/Sliverlight/etc...) ever could.

    In a few separate dealings, I never had a problem with anyone selling through car-part.

    1. Pete 2 Silver badge

      The _real_ reason to use flash

      As a fly on the wall when a few website designers have been in, hawking their warez, sorry: wares. The person the website has to be sold to is NOT the person on the end of a search engine, it's usually the least savvy, most superficial person in the room: the M.D.

      In order to get that person to sign on the dotted, it's not necessary to talk about keywords, content, rankings, load-time[1], bloat, Java, accessibility, CMS or any of the things that make a site successful (or not) to the end user. All you have to do is go for the "ooooh, shiny" reaction and possibly wipe the dribble off their chin. It's only once the site has been delivered and gone live that reality starts to bite - and features that were paid for get removed (but the fees never come back) in order to make it even slightly usable.

      As with all sales: it's a case of "know your client" and in most cases, web-designers do, and we have to live with the consequences.

      [1] The household name that so stuffed their home page with widgets, gadgets, trivia, effects and popups that the only time it ever loaded within the contractually stipulated time was on the internal 100MBit network.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    blew the reverse gear on her car’s transmission

    So that's where the lipstick came from?

  15. Richard Porter
    Thumb Up

    @Pete 2

    I entirely agree with your post, but a supplementary reason is that web designers like to put all the latest gizmos on their CVs so tend to use them whether they are needed or not. and usually they're not.

    It's the same with PDF which definitely _isn't_ portable if you use the latest features. Why use PDF 1.7 when 1.4 will do the job and everyone can read it?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We, the public,

    Already knew that.

    have you any idea how unpopular flash sites can be?

  17. David Bird

    The worst Flash site on the web has to be...

    Oracle's support site. I find myself having to use this abomination in order to seek out Solaris patches (which I could only find initially after placing a technical support call, answered by someone who had braved this loathsome exercise in unnecessary complexity before me).

  18. George McIntosh

    What story?

    Flash can be content. I hate Flash as much as the next guy, but pretending it doesn't count as content is missing the point somewhat. But really, what's the point in this story? Content may be king, but content nobody can find is a bit pointless really.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge


      Where did I say that the technology "Flash" was bad? Flash certainly can be content. I loves me my Flash TD as much as the next guy! The point was that having a website with awesome Flash (or HTML5) transitions, animations, menus and intros has ZERO value unless the site actually has content and/or useful functionality.

      The article was emphatically not about "the technology "Flash" is bad." It was about the fallacy of the notion current popular amongst web developpers. Namely: form over function.

      Seems however that there are many people who are /very/ touchy about the idea that Flash the technology is "bad." It makes me wonder what made them so wound up?

  19. sledge

    Nice Advert

    I take it you got your part for free.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge


      See previous post by me in this thread.

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