Flashy isn’t always best. Keep it simple.

(UPDATED IN 2017) In 2010, I redesigned two websites for companies selling office furniture and supplies.

The previous versions of the websites made extensive use of Flash and JavaScript. Some of their biggest customers (e.g. government offices) operated behind a security wall that banned JavaScript, and workers could not use the site or see any the links.  And neither site was getting much traffic.  Search engine robots could not navigate JavaScript links either. (2017: This has improved somewhat.)

It is easy to forget that many people working in institutional environments do not have the latest in computer equipment. Some are stuck with older operating systems, obsolete browsers, and high levels of security. Reasons may include:

  • organizational dependence on an intranet that was built to work with older software and hardware;
  • the cost of upgrading a large network all at once;
  • internet security concerns because of sensitive data on the network;
  • to keep employees off Facebook;
  • “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude – even when it isn’t working well for some employees.

Fortunately, cool graphics and interactivity are not exclusive to Flash and JavaScript.  HTML and CSS can provide interactivity and wow factor with faster download times, and better accessibility to search engines, to the visually impaired and others.

What is your experience?  Have you worked in an environment with old computer equipment and systems?  What factors prevented management from upgrading?

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