Flash is great for enhancing the look and feel of many websites. While it has nifty features, I think that it’s more often than not poorly implement, making for an annoying user experience. I would go so far as to say that it’s essentially useless for the vast majority of websites and in many cases over-used. There are other web scripting languages that are more flexible and easier for programmers to modify once the final product is created, as well as more search engine friendly (if needed…).
Case in Point: I Lost My U2 Tickets
U2 recently announced that they were going to build a concert venue in Montreal to perform a show, and then tear it down shortly thereafter. The temporary stadium is expected to hold 60,000-80,000 people at their July 16 2010 show.
I’m lucky enough to be on a VIP list that provides me with an early invite to purchase tickets online before the general public has access to them. I received the priviledged email, followed the login instructions, entered my contact info and payment details, actually got the seats I wanted (!) and when I tried clicking on the submit button, my transaction didn’t go through. It kept telling me that I had not chosen a method of ticket delivery (i.e., would they mail the tickets to me, would I pick them up, etc).
I tried and tried and tried to choose the method but the drop down box didn’t work. I tried different browsers but that didn’t work. That Flash drop down box just didn’t work. Eventually the timer gave way and I lost the opportunity to buy the tickets.
The system was built in Flash so as a programmer, I wanted to satisfy my curiosity to see what was causing the error by looking at the code, but it wouldn’t let me. I tried looking for a phone number to contact someone before the tickets were sold out, but again no luck. (That’s terrible service as far as I’m concerned). After about 20 minutes of trying, the tickets in my section were sold out. It was a frustrating experience and I fault 2 organizations for the issue.
The Two Companies at Fault
The first is Gillett Entertainment Group (geg.ca) whose website offered the tickets, and second, the web company that built the ticket buying system on their behalf. There is a footer reference indicating that a company called Plank Design in Montreal designed the site but I don’t know if they developed the ticket-buying system. Either way, Flash proves once again that it’s over-used and useless toward enhancing my customer experience.
I didn’t get my U2 tickets and worse, I know my web team could have built a better system without Flash (argh!).