Posting Date: April 25, 2002
WebWord Comment -- Exactly what value does Flash add to the GM home page?
A section of a screen that's designed to annoy the hell out of the user?
I dont know if it was a glitch that my browser ran into or something, but the huge START button they have on the upper right, doesnt do anything when you click on it! But it does have a rollover effect which makes you expect that something SHOULD be happening.
How long? How many times? Does it take before coporations realize the LAST place you want people to linger is on your corporate homepage? The homepage is supposed to allow a person to *get their bearings* and then move on into the content.
Why is this so hard?
Flash developers have tapped into the core root of corporate life -- ego. And conspicuous consumption. Flash serves this purpose by yelling like a sugared-up four-year-old "look what I can do." This is basic to understanding why. Pity nobody asked what to do about it, or how to turn it to the advantage of usability folk.
Maybe usability should look into why their "Eat your spinach" implied tagline isn't working as well as it could. Maybe it should be made more, well, usable.
If it didn't flash so freakin' much (pardon the pun), it could actually have been used for something more useful.
Having to look at "loading navigation" and see the cars jerkily make their way across the screen is enough to try anyone's patience.
I think the "Find the vehicle that's right for you" area could potentially make good use of Flash (how about a fun-to-use vehicle selector entirely within that Flash movie which leads directly to vehicle details and related information?) but having the main navigation in the Flash is pointless and irritating. And there's no way to tell if a link will open a list of sublinks or lead to another page immediately.
DHTML would be quicker and more useful (users could right-click on links to do things like open a new window, for example).
I've worked on many automotive sites (for a while I seemed to be doing nothing else) and it was heavy going. Even fairly large companies with slick branding sometimes insisted on running Web projects like they were for a dodgy used car dealership. Logos had to spin, buttons had to have brushed metal effects, tacky splash pages were adored.
My most patient, subtle & devious client-handling techniques often failed miserably. Once out of sheer frustration I put together the corniest splash page I could think of to show a client insisting upon one. They loved it, of course.
Matt, a brilliant idea has just hit me. We could both make some money out of it.
Since you work with so many flash-loving people (general flash, not Flash), I suggest that you continue to suggest and build very corny splash pages. I can then approach your clients offering user experience consulting services and fix the splashy crap. You destroy, I'll build. And then we'll split revenues. ;)
Hey I like your style, but there are two flaws in your cunning plan:
1. Fortunately I'm no longer doing automotive sites.
2. They wouldn't have wanted you to fix their sites. You'd have been met with bemused stares for criticising the spinning logo splash page.
I have to agree with Matt about automotive clients. I cut my Web teeth on this same group. After a bare six months I SWORE I would never, ever work for another automotive company of any stripe ever again.