blogarticle

Designing for your target audience

Playing around on the new company iPad 2 recently, I have been surprised at the amount of websites that still use Adobe Flash. I don’t mean the odd use of Flash, but entire sites built using it, preventing me  from using them. Madness you say!

We’re not prefect either, but we have made changes to our website, ensuring alternative media is displayed when Flash isn’t supported . Whilst Adobe Flash is an ubiquitous web format, is it not universally popular for a number of reasons. In terms of web marketing, it is not very search engine friendly as search engines struggle to index the content contained in these element(s). Therefore it’s a good reason to avoid using it to build your entire site.

In recent years the rise of Apple is another reason why it is not a good idea to design sites using Flash as Apple do not support the format, in fact Apple and Adobe are at complete logger heads.  In fact, if you are an Apple user you may have seen the following message from Adobe, when trying to download Flash, makes you feel really wanted, doesn’t it?

Thanks for trying to access Flash Player. Unfortunately it is not available for your device because restrictions that Apple has put in place. Click to see a wide array of the latest smart phones and tablets that do support Adobe’s Flash Player.

So if your client base use any of the Apple mobile devices (including their tablet [iPad]) then you may have some issues. Apple claim that Flash is the main reason why their Mac products fail / crash. It doesn’t get any better, as in the next version of Windows 8 some versions of Internet Explorer will not support flash either as the developers rely on native formats in HTML5, rather than relying on plug-ins such as Flash that slow the browsing experience and drain the battery life of the device.

So what am I getting worked up?

I am confused why some designers are still creating entire sites using Flash. This basically means they are potentially wasting their clients investment / money. Had they taken a function led design " what is function led design " approach they would have worked out the client’s target market demographic; from there, they will have worked out that being found on search would probably be important! Hence they would have avoided using a technology that would not help their clients business objectives.

As part of their research into the technology for their client they may also have found out what sort of companion devices the target audience use and there may have been a high chance that these will be a device beginning with “i”! They would have avoided using Flash and so enabling their client’s site to work on some of the most popular devices in use today.

Conclusion

By following the processes of function led design the development of a client’s website will more likely come up with a solution that is fit for purpose and that will not waste a clients budget on something that looks pretty only when you can find it and happen to be on a PC.

This doesn’t mean that I am anti-Flash or pro Apple. There are probably plenty of occasions where Flash can be used if appropriate but this is the point, if appropriate!

As for the iPad  / Apple " well that’s a different post all together!

HTML5 is potentially a solution for web designers / developers, but until the browsers provide support for HTML5 / CSS3 across the board (in a consistent manor) this remains a pipe dream for designers and developer alike.  You only need look at forums discussing the use of the section tag (which replaces the div tag, or does it)?

Date: 20/09/2011

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