Flash on the plate

Chris MacGregor’s inspired response to Don Norman’s intellegent explaination of the flash turn around issue should be required […]

Chris MacGregor’s inspired response to Don Norman’s intellegent explaination of the flash turn around issue should be required reading for anyone in web development. Especially consultants.

(reread Flash 99% bad, if you don’t know what I’m talking about. esp. the ammendment)

My little site often goes after usability blunders like a dog on a hambone, and I know as I’ve begun job hunting I’ve been restraining myself– slightly.

But is this a good idea? On one hand, I’m not a professional critic and I don’t get paid to be objective. On the other hand, how can I expect you to ever trust me if I don’t keep my nose clean (or get it dirty– not sure — damn metaphors). At least you should be able to trust me to be opinionated.

The ammendment on the 99% bad alertbox reads more than a little like a backpedal. What does that do to the alertbox’s trustworthyness? It makes you wonder what are the stories that don’t get told at NNG. And other consultant companies.

It also reveals the price of being bombastic and absolute. If that orginal column had claimed merely that Flash was being misused, the current alliance would go down easier with the community(s). But the attention grabbing “99% bad” that got people to the site, and probably caught Macromedia’s attention, is also the reason this job is going down so badly.

What can NNG do? Here is a chance to make real change. I don’t blame them for making what is the right decision: to try to help what they view as a troubled product. But they are also going to have to live with the skeptiscm and catcalls.

That’s the price of guruhood.


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    C. – nice post, important issue.

    I wonder what it would be like to be in Jakob’s position? I criticize well-known, widely-used software. A while later the company calls me and asks if I would like to help make it better. Hmmm, it’s what I love to do. And I’ve already devoted time thinking about it. And the end result will help people make other products. Not to mention the job will put food on my table. Sounds good!

    If he said no, it’d almost be unethical…passing up a chance to improve usability on such a large scale…if it helps the end user who gives a rat’s ass what his jealous peers think?

    Regarding the ramifications of our criticism, well, that’s always been the fate of the critic. I recently made a not-so-nice comment about a site in a public forum and got a biting email from the head designer in return. But did he fix the (unarguable) problem? No. He chose to spend his time bickering instead.

    Critics need to be tough but fair, and designers need to be open-minded and thick-skinned. Or else we’re doomed to either designing without useful feedback or bickering instead of improving.

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