In an October 2000 article, "Flash 99% Bad," usability guru Jakob Nielsen wrote, "About 99% of the time, the presence of Flash on a website constitutes a usability disease." Flash 99% Good: A Guide to Macromedia Flash Usability
is a new look at the good and the bad of Flash today. Authors Kevin Airgid and Stephanie Reindel, a developer/designer and information architect, respectively, counter that, with a knowledgeable implementation of Flash, "form and function can coexist." Lets face it, theres a lot of indulgent Flash out there, and whether youre the client, the project manager, or a member of the creative team, you may want to read this before you start your next project.
The book is not really a how-to; its more like a critique (or harangue) accompanied by screenshots (in color), personal asides, and interviews (for example, Adries Odendaal of the entrancing Wireframe Studio and even Kevin Lynch, Chief Software Architect at Macromedia). Topics include knowing your audience, creating clear navigation (including a usable "back" button), providing workable content (for example, enabling a print feature, bookmarking, Flash forms), accessibility issues, and the future of Flash. And theres a chapter-long case study of one of Airgids designs (iconideas.com), which makes interesting reading. Makeovers are always fun.
The book is stridently opinionated. For example, they write, "Designers naturally rank color, shapes, and typography above information flow, usability, and download time." (If youre a designer you may "naturally" bristle at that remark!) Oddly, these reductive comments make the book more interesting, like a line drawn in the sand--you want to see how they prove themselves worthy of painting such blatant stereotypes.
And they manage that with lots of advice, some of which youll adopt in your own work, some of which youll scoff at, and some of which is already moot with Flash MX (for example, aspects of accessibility design). Flash 99% Good offers experience-backed insights, plenty of personal pet peeves, and expert interviews. You may not always agree with what they prescribe, but theyll make you think twice before you whip up your next Flash brainchild. --Angelynn Grant
Older patrons are attracted to audiovisual material on the web, but this video unfortunately misses the mark. It only covers usage of AOL which the narrator consistently conflates with the Internet. Shots of computer screens are blurry, nearly unreadable, and often cut off at the edges. Explanations are incomplete and, in some cases, incorrect (a modem, for example, is defined as "a piece of software"). Not recommended.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.