Flash technology is popular. Adobe confirmed it with buying Macromedia. We see web studios, Group94 and HiReS!, dedicating a big percentage of projects in Flash. Are Flash sites just a trend and overall useless? Or do you consider there is room for Flash as there is with CSS, and yes, there are well-constructed sites with usability?
Flash sites are in no way a trend. Humans are sensory organisms. We need interaction, we need emotional response, we need things to move us. Flash is just the beginning of all this. Flash is the best way to provoke an emotional response, because it involves more of the human senses than just a static image or text can provide. I can promise you that you will have a stronger emotional reaction to a product advertisement with sound and motion than you will to a static one. At this point in time, there is definitely room for Flash AND CSS AND properly constructed websites that take usability into account.
As with all progression, it is going to take time for this technology to develop, and for people to feel comfortable with it. I think, as we move forward, people will grow and learn the technology faster and faster, and hopefully 300 years in the future we will have moved past assuming that our audience is not smart enough to use a certain function, or find a certain button, or understand how an interface works. This is when the gloves truly come off, and I see humans doing some amazing things with technology. But for the meantime I think we must settle with our own ineptitude.
I am sad to say that I continue to see relatively little good use of Flash. This is particularly annoying to me because I did a project to study people using Flash to derive the guidelines for good Flash usability. So I know that it's possible to build good user interfaces in Flash. There is definitely room for Flash for applications that are highly interactive or where animation inherently communicates something better. The problem is just that very few sites use Flash for these purposes. Most Flash is still just flashy stuff that annoys users instead of helping them.
No Flash sites are not just a trend, and Adobe is putting a huge effort into insuring a solid future. A lot of the limitations of Flash are being resolved, and the medium is becoming just as flexible, usable and accessible as HTML or CSS. Flash can be misused and abused in the hands of the unskilled, but with skills Flash can provide a much more rich and usable experience. Not all sites are appropriate for Flash, but many sites wouldn’t work without it. It’s another tool – one to pull out when you wish to develop a rich experience.
I think Flash works best when it is used only when absolutely needed for
a particularly rich interaction, rather than just for the sake of being
flashy. Some good examples that come to mind are Sphere, Measure
Map, and YouTube for tasteful and useful Flash.
First, I don't think Adobe bought Macromedia for Flash alone, that's a misunderstanding of the complexity of that purchase. I wouldn't say any work is useless. I think there is room for any technology so long as the user needs, business needs, and technical needs are clearly understood. Flash tends to lean towards the business needs with little regard for the technology (ever tried to load a Flash site on a Nokia 6683?) or the user (ever try to navigate a flash application via a screen reader blindfolded?) at times.
This is an absurd question really we are doing major interactive applications in Flash and video based solutions that are only possible with Flash. CSS is great for some things and frankly sucks for other things. The same can be said for Flash but to call it a trend is really funny as Flash has been around longer than CSS. Trust me I started hand coding in 1995 and worked with the design and coding side as HTML developed as well as Flash.
Flash can be a great tool where it is compatible with the requirements of a brief; we’ve used it before and are sure to use it again.
You have to look at the audience. HiReS does sites that are for entertainment, so if they function in that area (and they do!), they have served their purpose. Flash can work in areas such as that. Using Flash for a content driven site would give me a headache trying to solve how it would work, but it is possible. I am sure if you had the right people on the job they could do a wonderful execution. It’s all how you use the tool and Flash seems to be more than a tool sometimes. I personally do not like Flash sites most of the time if I am trying to use it for informational purposes. It normally is slower and hard to grab info from.