What the Demise of Flash Means for the User Experience

Adobe’s decision to cease development of the mobile Flash platform and increase their investment in HTML5-related efforts created perhaps the final piece of conclusive evidence that HTML5 is the current go-to technology for creating ubiquitous user experiences regardless of device.

While there’s been an abundant amount of discussion on what this means to developers, there’s been a lack of focus on what this means to the overall user experience (UX). If HTML5 thrives where Flash struggled and becomesthe dominator in the choice for new mobile and desktop technology, will users benefit from the transition? Yes, as long as designers and developers do their jobs right.

Different stroke for different folks

Apples and oranges. The question is, which one’s Flash?

It might seem strange to compare Flash and HTML5 at all, since they are so inherently different. Whereas Flash is proprietary, HTML5 is continually developing through open source collaboration. If Flash is a seasoned monarchy, then HTML5 is the wild wild west. It’s important to note that there are tons of applications and sites in which Flash and native apps will remain the preferred choice of implementation. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t explore the major differences between the two in order to discuss the gaps that HTML5 can fill where Flash is lacking.

Flash, by nature, is a control freak. It demands browsers have the latest plugin, or it will be sure to let you know if it’s unhappy with your version – perhaps even go on strike until you upgrade. It thrives on presenting a consistent, desktop-centric experience of typefaces and layout, and never bothers to worry about changing the user experience based on device nor the context of what you might want to do on that device. But Flash has had years to evolve from the land of bouncy ball demos and splash screens to the product for creating some fantastically innovative interfaces.

By contrast, HTML5 excels at giving users a delightfully inconsistent experience on any device through the concepts of “graceful degradation” and “progressive enhancement.” Both concepts are designed to provide users the best possible experience each browser allows for, whether a content area displays a static image in Internet Explorer 6, or a fully functional HTML5 video in Chrome. Since desktop browser usage runs the entire spectrum of worst- to best-case scenarios, this way of designing user experiences can help ensure that all users get the most bang for their buck out of their browsers. Gone are the days of being forced into creating identical experiences based on the best performance of the worst browser.

Those who advocate web standards also support the important role HTML5 plays in responsive web design, or the systematic display of content, tasks, and layout, depending on whether the user is viewing the site on a mobile or desktop-sized browser. The reasons why people view the same website on a mobile device versus a desktop is often very different. For example, a user viewing a site for a restaurant while sitting at their office desk could likely want to view a workflow more supportive of exploring the menu, reviews and other content that would help decide if it’s a good place to eat. On the other hand, a user viewing the site from the passenger seat of a car might want to quickly find content based on the assumption that they have already decided to eat there, such as directions or the phone number.


By SuAnne Hall  
http://www.uxbooth.com/blogSuAnne Hall

Adobe’s decision to cease development of the mobile Flash platform and increase their investment in HTML5-related efforts created perhaps the final piece of conclusive evidence that HTML5 is the current go-to technology for creating ubiquitous user experiences regardless of device.

While there’s been an abundant amount of discussion on what this means to developers, there’s been a lack of focus on what this means to the overall user experience (UX). If HTML5 thrives where Flash struggled and becomesthe dominator in the choice for new mobile and desktop technology, will users benefit from the transition? Yes, as long as designers and developers do their jobs right.

Different stroke for different folks

Apples and oranges. The question is, which one’s Flash?

It might seem strange to compare Flash and HTML5 at all, since they are so inherently different. Whereas Flash is proprietary, HTML5 is continually developing through open source collaboration. If Flash is a seasoned monarchy, then HTML5 is the wild wild west. It’s important to note that there are tons of applications and sites in which Flash and native apps will remain the preferred choice of implementation. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t explore the major differences between the two in order to discuss the gaps that HTML5 can fill where Flash is lacking.

Flash, by nature, is a control freak. It demands browsers have the latest plugin, or it will be sure to let you know if it’s unhappy with your version – perhaps even go on strike until you upgrade. It thrives on presenting a consistent, desktop-centric experience of typefaces and layout, and never bothers to worry about changing the user experience based on device nor the context of what you might want to do on that device. But Flash has had years to evolve from the land of bouncy ball demos and splash screens to the product for creating some fantastically innovative interfaces.

By contrast, HTML5 excels at giving users a delightfully inconsistent experience on any device through the concepts of “graceful degradation” and “progressive enhancement.” Both concepts are designed to provide users the best possible experience each browser allows for, whether a content area displays a static image in Internet Explorer 6, or a fully functional HTML5 video in Chrome. Since desktop browser usage runs the entire spectrum of worst- to best-case scenarios, this way of designing user experiences can help ensure that all users get the most bang for their buck out of their browsers. Gone are the days of being forced into creating identical experiences based on the best performance of the worst browser.

Those who advocate web standards also support the important role HTML5 plays in responsive web design, or the systematic display of content, tasks, and layout, depending on whether the user is viewing the site on a mobile or desktop-sized browser. The reasons why people view the same website on a mobile device versus a desktop is often very different. For example, a user viewing a site for a restaurant while sitting at their office desk could likely want to view a workflow more supportive of exploring the menu, reviews and other content that would help decide if it’s a good place to eat. On the other hand, a user viewing the site from the passenger seat of a car might want to quickly find content based on the assumption that they have already decided to eat there, such as directions or the phone number. Leer más “What the Demise of Flash Means for the User Experience”

Will the Real Browser Stats Please Stand Up?

Recently, Mashable published an article entitled “IE6 Finally Nearing Extinction”, announcing that IE6 usage in the United States and Europe have finally dropped below 5%.

That news probably warmed the cockles of the hearts of web designers everywhere. Thus, it seems designers and developers now have even more incentive to stop supporting IE6, following the pattern set by Google, notably with regards to YouTube.

The stats in the Mashable article are based on StatCounter Global Stats. In this article, I’ll provide some food for thought by way of some alternative statistics that in many ways contradict the sources for the article published by Mashable.

These stats should drive home the point that every website is different, and that in some cases it may still be necessary to provide a fairly decent experience in IE6, while progressively enhancing design and functionality for newer browsers.


Recently, Mashable published an article entitled “IE6 Finally Nearing Extinction”, announcing that IE6 usage in the United States and Europe have finally dropped below 5%.

That news probably warmed the cockles of the hearts of web designers everywhere. Thus, it seems designers and developers now have even more incentive to stop supporting IE6, following the pattern set by Google, notably with regards to YouTube.

The stats in the Mashable article are based on StatCounter Global Stats. In this article, I’ll provide some food for thought by way of some alternative statistics that in many ways contradict the sources for the article published by Mashable.

These stats should drive home the point that every website is different, and that in some cases it may still be necessary to provide a fairly decent experience in IE6, while progressively enhancing design and functionality for newer browsers.

Leer más “Will the Real Browser Stats Please Stand Up?”

UK.gov sticks to IE 6 cos it’s more ‘cost effective’, innit

The petition itself was sent to Number 10 earlier this year asking then Prime Minister Gordon Brown to follow German and French governments’ decisions to ditch IE 6.

Brown’s administration was unmoved by security concerns about the crinkly old browser, however.

It claimed at the time that its system, along with regular Microsoft updates, meant it was robust enough against the kind of attack that claimed over 30 corporate firms at the end of last year.

Google was perhaps the most high-profile victim of those attacks. It has since turned its back on supporting the old MS browser in its web apps.

At the same time, Microsoft too has been trying to shepherd users away from IE 6 and Windows XP – the operating system that refuses to die – in favour of its more recent software efforts.

But the ConDem government is singing from the same hymnbook as Number 10’s previous incumbents.

Freetards on the interwebs are in uproar about the decision, and the El Reg mailbox is overflowing with comments from outraged coders.

“Apparently the IT team in Whitehall has yet to realise you could quite easily use IE6 for IE6 only sites, and receive the protection of a more modern browser such as IE8, FF and Chrome for everything else,” Reg reader Mark told us.

“As a senior web application developer, the mention of the positive word ‘standards’ in a document about IE6 makes me die a little on the inside — ‘Public sector organisations are free to identify software that supports their business needs as long as it adheres to appropriate standards’ — I’m not sure which standards they mean… but certainly not the HTML ones.”

Alas, Internet Explorer 6 is here to stay to keep the wheels of central government turning in this big fat society of ours, people. ®


Internet Explorer Mobile Logo
Image via Wikipedia

By Kelly Fiveash

Computers in Whitehall will largely continue to run Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 6, which will make web coders spit out their cheese‘n’pickle sarnies this lunchtime.

“It is not straightforward for HMG departments to upgrade IE versions on their systems. Upgrading these systems to IE 8 can be a very large operation, taking weeks to test and roll out to all users.”

“To test all the web applications currently used by HMG departments can take months at significant potential cost to the taxpayer. It is therefore more cost effective in many cases to continue to use IE6 and rely on other measures, such as firewalls and malware scanning software, to further protect public sector internet users,” it said. Leer más “UK.gov sticks to IE 6 cos it’s more ‘cost effective’, innit”