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Author Topic: Flash or HTML for photo web gallery site  (Read 17289 times)
aaronkneile
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« on: January 10, 2012, 08:47:24 AM »
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I hope I'm posting in the right place for this question, but what is the general opinion about photography gallery websites: Do people prefer flash, or is html a better option? What do people see as the advantages/drawbacks to flash and/or html? Thanks!
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KLaban
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« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2012, 11:28:10 AM »
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Abysmal work is better served via bloated flash.
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aaronkneile
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« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2012, 11:34:30 AM »
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Funny!

There are commercial photo gallery templates that seem to use Flash, but I'd read that Flash was not as good for some reason. I wondered what people preferred. Often the pictures don't scale very well, regardless. I thought it might be nice to have the pictures scale up and better fill the browser window. What is it that makes Flash be less desirable, besides not playing on an iPad?

Thanks!
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KLaban
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« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2012, 11:38:25 AM »
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What is it that makes Flash be less desirable, besides not playing on an iPad?

Have you got an hour or two?
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aaronkneile
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« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2012, 11:48:07 AM »
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I do have a couple of hours, but don't want to overstay my welcome! It sounds like there may be numerous reasons that flash is not desirable. But not playing on an iPad is the only issue I'm aware of. But on the other hand, flash can scale images very nicely without anti-aliasing. I don't want to be a drain on people's time, but am confused as to the pros and cons. Thanks for all your help!
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KLaban
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« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2012, 12:06:11 PM »
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Abysmal work is better served via bloated flash.

Have you got an hour or two?

Really, the clue is in these two answers.

All too often flash delivers content at a snails pace or delivers content that wasn't asked for. In this give-it-me-now life the hour glass is the enemy.
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Martin Ranger
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« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2012, 12:18:54 PM »
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Having just redone my own website, I might be able to help. From what I understand and what I experienced myself, it goes like this.

The main disadvantages of flash are this:

1. It doesn't display on some devices, notably the iPad and iPhone, and doesn't display well on most mobile phones.
2. It is resource intensive both in download size and (not entirely sure about this) processor resources, making it much slower to display than a html/javascript website. This might make people skip your website if they have slow internet or old hardware and don't have the patience to wait. Most photoeditors are said not to like flash.
3. It is not good for SEO as bing and google cannot see inside of the flash content. That means all text information in your website cannot easily be indexed by the search engines. If your business relies on people finding you on google or bing, a flash-based website will not work for you.

The main advantages of flash are this:
1. It looks the same on any browser and works with legacy browsers. With html/java your website might display differently depending on which browser people use, and look horrible on some old browsers. Sure, you can code it in such a way that it works almost universally, but it is a huge pain in you behind (at least it was in mine) unless you go with fairly simple design and menu elements.
2. Image scaling works, and the scaled images look great. I could not get it to work as properly with a html website, but that might have been due to my lack of coding skills.

After struggling with this for a long time, I decided on a hybrid approach. My main website is flash based, but has an html version for search engines and flash-hostile devices. There is also a separate ipad version. An attached blog helps with the SEO. Since most of my business doesn't come from search engines this works for me. It might not work for you if search engine ranking is what you are after. I tested a few companies when I looked for a new design and in general, it seems to be the case that the initial loading time is longer than a html site, but once the site is loaded navigation is quick (and depends mainly on the size of your image files).

I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any more questions.
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Martin Ranger
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aaronkneile
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« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2012, 01:20:19 PM »
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Many thanks for all the insights! Super helpful.

I am doing my website with images that scale using javascript. It's been difficult so far, but see the potential. How much does everybody think scalable images matter?
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Martin Ranger
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« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2012, 02:34:03 PM »
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Quote
How much does everybody think scalable images matter?

I seem to remember a survey the people at Photoshelter did a little while ago. One of the things they found was that art buyers don't like huge photos. Something along the lines that for editorial purposes 750px and for advertising 900px was the upper limit, if I remember correctly. For that you wouldn't necessarily need scalability. On the other hand, none of my clients has ever complained about the photos being too large... maybe because the ones who find them too large (and slow-loading) never become my clients  Wink
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Martin Ranger
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KLaban
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« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2012, 02:43:16 PM »
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How much does everybody think scalable images matter?

Depends on your target market. Most editors, buyers, designers, photographers etc. will be using similar high resolution screens and won't be expecting images to look good on low resolution screens or phones.

More importantly, they're looking to spend as little time as possible to find what they want.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2012, 02:49:13 PM by KLaban » Logged

amsp
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« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2012, 03:13:32 PM »
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With the advent of html5 and the fact that more and more people are using mobile devices to surf the web flash is on it's last breath. Even Adobe admits to this and is offering flash to html converters. Even in it's prime flash was mainly a tool for highly interactive and media-intense websites, like promotional/advertising stuff, not something that would benefit a photographer where you mainly want fast and easy access to your photos. Making a new website/portfolio in flash today is probably the stupidest thing you can do and is mostly regarded as a nuisance by potential visitors.

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Graham Mitchell
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« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2012, 04:58:38 AM »
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A few years ago, pre-iPad, I would have recommended Flash for the reason that it can do more than HTML and it is MUCH simpler to deploy across various platforms. That's why I built mine in Flash back then. Now HTML can do more, and there are more devices which can't run Flash.

At the moment, I am re-building my site in HTML so that the iAddicts can visit the site as well. Took 10 hours to rebuild it, and another 10 hours so far trying to fix cross-platform bugs, and we're only a third of the way through the bugs. Overall it's going to be a LOT more work than the Flash site was.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2012, 03:23:37 AM by Graham Mitchell » Logged

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aaronkneile
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« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2012, 07:52:38 AM »
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Thanks to everyone for their input! And that's a lot of hours! Why not go with something commercially available? Do you think it's bad form for a photographer to use a commercially available template? Or should your site look different as a part of your strategy?
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mediumcool
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« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2012, 07:57:35 AM »
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A few years ago, pre-iPad, I would have recommended Flash for the reason that it can do more than HTML and it is MUCH simpler to deploy across various platforms. That's why I built mine in Flash back then. Now HTML can do more, and there are more devices which can't run Flash.

But Flash has long been slow and buggy on all platforms apart from Windows. And Adobe is abandoning Flash for mobile devices—Android and WP7.

At the moment, I am re-building my site in HTML so that the iAddicts can visit the site as well.

Sounds like you’re a Windows user, and are toting some angst. Fine, but web stats for many years indicate that Mac users have more disposable income and spend it more readily (same sort of thing is showing up in Android vs iOS). To lock out iOS is crazy, but of course you are remedying that.

Took 10 hours to rebuild it, and another 10 hours so far trying to fix cross-platform bugs, and we're only halfway through the bugs. Overall it's going to be a LOT more work than the Flash site was.

If you are writing good code, cross-platform bugs should only apply in older browsers; Microsoft have made considerable strides recently in getting Internet Explorer to observe standards, and should be commended for that effort.
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« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2012, 08:00:02 AM »
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Graham, would be interested to know what sort of show-stoppers you have encountered in using HTML5; placement of elements, CSS rendering etc.?
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Graham Mitchell
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« Reply #15 on: January 12, 2012, 02:47:20 AM »
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But Flash has long been slow and buggy on all platforms apart from Windows.

Yet not a single user of the site has ever experienced a bug, not matter what their browser or platform. I am not dropping Flash willingly, but the world (including Adobe) seems to be dropping Flash so the writing's on the wall.

And Adobe is abandoning Flash for mobile devices—Android and WP7.

Yes, that was the final nail in the coffin for me. I started my new site development the very next day after that news was released Smiley

Sounds like you’re a Windows user, and are toting some angst.

Not at all - a happy Mac user (though I've used Windows for years as well). My iAddicts comment was aimed at the iPad and iPhone crowd mainly. If there's any angst, it's aimed at those trying to assess a photographer's work on a tiny phone screen. But that's what some people are apparently doing, so I will cater for that.

If you are writing good code, cross-platform bugs should only apply in older browsers; Microsoft have made considerable strides recently in getting Internet Explorer to observe standards, and should be commended for that effort.

'Should' is a dangerous word. I have tested the site so far in Firefox (Mac and PC), Safari (Mac), Chrome (Mac), IE (PC), iOS3, iOS4, iOS5, iPad, iPad2 and Dolphin Mini (Android), and even that's not enough. The site behaves differently in every single one of those! That's extremely time-consuming to fix.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2012, 03:04:30 AM by Graham Mitchell » Logged

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Graham Mitchell
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« Reply #16 on: January 12, 2012, 02:54:49 AM »
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Graham, would be interested to know what sort of show-stoppers you have encountered in using HTML5; placement of elements, CSS rendering etc.?

All sorts of things really, mainly javascript-related of course.
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amsp
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« Reply #17 on: January 12, 2012, 06:15:42 AM »
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I have tested the site so far in Firefox (Mac and PC), Safari (Mac), Chrome (Mac), IE (PC), iOS3, iOS4, iOS5, iPad, iPad2 and Dolphin Mini (Android), and even that's not enough. The site behaves differently in every single one of those! That's extremely time-consuming to fix.

Sounds like you're doing something very wrong.
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #18 on: January 13, 2012, 08:00:11 PM »
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I hope I'm posting in the right place for this question, but what is the general opinion about photography gallery websites: Do people prefer flash, or is html a better option? What do people see as the advantages/drawbacks to flash and/or html? Thanks!
My main site is in Flash (it is a livebooks.com site) butthey produce an HTML site site that runs on machines like iPads  & iPhones.

A Flash coded site does not have to be bloated  or an awful viewing experience.   I hate soundtracks on websites so I don't use one on mine, which is http://www.ellisvener.com
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Ellis Vener
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fredjeang
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« Reply #19 on: January 14, 2012, 02:35:24 AM »
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I think that this question is answered by the circunstances themselves: Adobe will not continue to develop Flash in the future. It's more or less like they announced the cease of it.
They will concentrate in the future apps in HTML 5, probably within a Dreamweaver platform.

Therefore, building right now a site in Flash is IMO a "mistake", independently of its pro or cons. The Flash system has reached to an end and would be a closed road, with the bonus to
have to re-do all the site soon or later.

HTML is reaching a good maturity and flexibility, HTML 5 will be integrated into wysiwyg and growing. That's the current way to go.

Included for motion players.

But of course, Flash will not die just like that tomorrow, it will (and is) progressive and will probably remains optional and operative where it is already today. Just that devs won't use it anymore.

As for I.E meeting finally the standards, they did an effort but we're not completly there yet.

From a user point of view, when I view sites built in Flash, I generally give-up earlier. The interface is "nervous", slow quite a lot compared to html. It gives the sensation to be "unstable" and there is always a silly animation somewhere in the menu or the way the images are loaded. The loading bar, symbol of Flash, is now very unfriendly to me.

I'd be cautious with Java, it could easily fall into the same abuse than the early Flash. The less it's used, the better IMO.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2012, 02:50:16 AM by fredjeang » Logged
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