You may remember back in November 2011, Adobe announced that it would discontinue development of the Flash Player for mobile platforms. This came after a very public battle between Apple and Adobe on the validity of Flash Player, not just in the mobile space, but on any platform. In addition to the Apple/Adobe battle, Microsoft recently announced that the new Metro browser in Windows 8 will not support Flash.
However, I want to talk about a battle that front-end developers in professional web design started long before the more recently public Apple vs. Flash battle. When I began building websites in 2005, I realized that if I wanted to create a site that was easy to maintain independently of proprietary software, I had to exclude Flash from the equation. I consistently avoided Flash as much as possible when designing or developing a website.
I found that I was not alone in doing this. I began reading in blogs and listening to colleagues who did the same. Flash created a whole new realm of issues that had to be dealt with in order to create and maintain a professional website. Now, it’s not just Flash that is on the line, but any web technology that requires a user-installed browser plug-in.
Looking back, Flash actually helped guide us to current web technologies and standards, and the world is not ungrateful. However, it is time for the next evolution of rich user experiences to have the spotlight.
With the rising use of mobile devices, platform developers are now pushing heavily to support standard web technologies, and it all boils down to user experience. Users don’t want to have to take any extra steps to view your content on their device of choice. That means they shouldn’t have to install Flash, Silverlight, or any other third party plug-in to experience your content. Users now expect to be able to see the important parts of your web content whether they are on their PC, smart phone, or tablet.
While supporting mobile platforms used to be outrageously expensive, recent advances in web technology are making it easier and more affordable at a rapid pace. Below are a few links to sites that I invite you to try out on your PC, and then on your tablet or Smartphone.
Notice which ones are viewable on your mobile device, and which are not. Now, I challenge you to think about how you can create a better experience for your users by making sure that your content is accessible across multiple platforms.