Website Decisions and Changes

I was in a meeting with a client the other week, and we were talking about our technology choices, made in the course of developing the current version of their site. I was basically trying to talk them into a “site refresh,” feeling that the technologies supporting their current site weren’t serving them as well as they should be.

This is a hard sell, especially when you are the person who helped choose those technologies! Sure, the client always has opinions, and those sometimes aren’t as flexible as you would like. But time marches on, and so does technology. A few years ago, we were all about making websites 100% Flash. We still love building those websites, and many of my favorite Needmore projects are those sites. In fact, the site belonging to the client in question is one of those very sites!

So how do you talk them into changing?

During that meeting I uttered a quote (and I’m surely not the first to say this) that I remember quite well. “We make the best decisions we can based on the information that is available to us at the time.” That means that it is entirely possible for times to change, and for better ways of doing things to come along. When we and our client decided upon the Flash-based site, there were several distinct advantages:

  1. It looks awesome, especially with great photography.
  2. You have an incredible degree of control over the user experience.
  3. Thanks to Ladybug, it’s easy to update the site.
  4. No-one can steal your graphics (or text, for that matter).

Yet over time, we found a greater number of disadvantages that would be addressed by an HTML-based site.

  1. It can still look awesome, with the same photography, fonts, and color scheme.
  2. You can still have great user experience, thanks to JavaScript interaction and effects libraries like Prototype and Scriptaculous. (Don’t believe me? Look at Apple!)
  3. Updating the site is easier than ever. As a Flash site grows in complexity and features, it becomes ever-more-difficult to make that site update and interact as well, without writing ever-more code. HTML-based sites alleviate that problem.
  4. Maybe you actually want people to steal your graphics and text! In fact, maybe you want them to print it out, email it, and talk about it. Might that not actually help your business?!?
  5. You also get better search engine visibility and ranking, RSS news feeds, print-friendly pages, faster page load times, and much better browser compatibility. (No Flash on the iPhone?)

There are probably millions of websites that will continue to benefit from Flash, and we hope to make many more such sites. But sometimes you need to take a step back, practice some zero-based thinking, and make a reasoned decision about your website’s long-term goals.

Raymond Brigleb

Creative Director, dreamer, partner, father, musician, photographer. Has been known to ride the rails. Pulls one heck of a shot.