November 20, 2003
Blog Entry

Uproar over Anti-Flash Intro Survey Results

SUMMARY: No summary available.
By Managing Editor Anne Holland

Wow - I don't think we've ever published anything that got such
fervent, lengthy, opinioned responses as this week's article,
'80% of Consumers Hate Flash Intros' (link below.)

Some people thought the survey that generated the data was
slanted or improperly created. Some felt that Flash is the
greatest thing since sliced bread. And, many expressed joy that
the Flash intro bubble was "popped."

While I don't think the survey was absolutely perfect, I also
don’t think its imperfections skewed results so profoundly that a
different version would have had opposite results. (You can
judge for yourself, we included a link to the original survey in
the article below.)

I was also very surprised at the number of Flash intro
supporters who wrote in. The fact that most Web users
dislike intros is hardly new, or even big, news.

So, I contacted Macromedia - the makers of Flash - to see if they
had any formal best practices or advice on Flash intros. Suzy
Ramirez in the PR department sent me a link to a white paper
called, "Flash: a New Hope for Web Applications" (link below.)

Despite the promo-sounding name, it's actually a fabulous paper
with lots of useful screenshots and examples of how you can use
Flash to make people love your site and your brand. I heartily
recommend you download it.

But, it didn't have a specific rule about intros - so I called up
the co-author of the paper, Jared Spool of User Interface
Engineering, to ask, "Flash intros - good or bad?"

Jared said, "When we have clients who are thinking about Flash
splash pages, we tell them to go to their local supermarket and
bring a mime with them. Have the mime stand in front of the
supermarket, and, as each customer tries to enter, do a little
show that lasts two minutes, welcoming them to the supermarket
and trying to explain the bread is on aisle six and milk is on
sale today.

"Then stand back and count how many people watch the mime, how
many people get past the mime as quickly as possible, and how
many people punch the mime out.

"That should give you a good idea as to how well their splash
page will be received. That's the crux of it."

However, Jared did add, if 100% of your site visitors are coming
to learn one thing and one thing only from you, then a splash
page might work. His example, "Michael Jackson's home page today
could say 'I'm innocent of all charges,' and that would be it."

So, you heard it from a usuability expert that Macromedia
themselves recommend. Flash intros are not wonderful.

Useful links related to this Blog:

The "80% of Customers hate Flash Intros" article that prompted
this Blog (includes link to original survey):
(Open access until 11/27)

The White Paper Macromedia (and I) recommend you check out on
Flash design inspiration

Jared Spool's UIE site

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