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Of course, Flash can be used as a way to present content—words, both printed and recorded, and pictures that actually illustrate something. But more often, it is used to impress. And most often, it ends up annoying. Who wants to spend better part of a minute waiting for a rotation of generic pictures of smiling models?
Special Effect that Bombs Number 2: Splash Screens You type in duracell.com expecting information on batteries—which you will find, if you have patience not to hit “back” button while site shows a picture of a battery revolving painfully slowly. On www.mcdonalds.com you're met with pictures of happy children playing with Ronald McDonald and a menu to select what country you're from. Johnson's and Johnson's web site shows a logo before automatically redirecting you to main page—that is if it doesn't crash your browser first (which happened when author tried to access page on May 2, 2004 ).
Another way big consumer corporations' web sites from Schick to Mercedes-Benz to Thomas Cooke waste your time with splash pages is by making you choose what country you're visiting from. This could have been detected automatically, or at least, useful worldwide content could have been placed on homepage, with an option to choose a country prominently displayed.
Splash pages are internet equivalent of making patrons wait in line out front before letting them inside. Unless a site belongs to a night club or a professional services firm with too much business, this can't be a good idea. On web, where “back” button and URL bars loom temptingly, making people wait is business suicide.
Special Effect that Bombs Number 3: Overbuilt or Badly Built “Dynamic” Functionality Every web surfer has a story about a shopping cart that malfunctioned just when they were about to click “purchase” on something they really wanted. Or a detailed form that lost all information after “submit” button was pressed. When there are so many good “dynamic” sites out there, why are there still so many bad ones? Part of problem may be overbuilding and needless custom design. There are already excellent Open Source databases out there, which can be endlessly customized and updated by any skilled designer. Yet many companies prefer to spend their money reinventing wheel so they can have their own proprietary technology, even if it doesn't work.
Sometimes, dynamic content can distort way an entire site presents itself. If dynamic content is so complex that it presents problems for many users, it is unlikely dynamic content is worth it. On disney.com, your first greeting is a message that your computer is sufficiently up-to-date (or not) to handle site. Is that really magical and fun impression you want to give visitors?
Joel Walsh is the founder, owner, and head writer of UpMarket, an online copywriting / internet marketing services firm & web content provider to small and medium-sized businesses.