I hated Flash before it was cool to hate Flash

Several years ago, I wrote:
"Don't use Flash. Especially, not for the home page. Waiting for a flash site to load is like standing in line to watch TV. Even after loading, Flash sites are slower. If you are going to have an HTML option, you will have to develop two web sites. If you require Flash, you will lose visitors. In any case, you will lose visitors who won't wait around for slow Flash to load. What do you hope to gain with Flash?"
I wrote this long before Steve Jobs started tearing into Flash, so I'm hardly shilling for Apple. (And approximately zero people look to me as a tech pundit anyway.) So is Steve following my lead? Not exactly.

I generally agree with Jobs' criticisms of Flash: it's a pig, it crashes a lot, it doesn't play nice with the native OS or user experience. But my main problem isn't even with Flash per se. That's why, a year or two ago, I changed "Don't use Flash" above to "Don't use gratuitous Flash." Sure, Flash is a pig, but it also encourages piggy web sites. Even if you don't use Flash, you can still make your web site suck if you try hard enough. The point is to provide the user with an excellent and supple user experience with as little delay as possible. Any site that feels compelled to put up a link that says "skip intro" is based on the fantasy that there are people out there who are giddy with excitement at the prospect of sitting through a bunch of pretty mood-setting pictures before they get to the reason they visited the site in the first place.

So go ahead and dump Flash. I'll cheer. But for all the people who will use HTML 5 to make sites that need "skip intro" links, sorry about all the traffic you didn't get.

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