When it comes to applications developed in Adobe Flash nobody can argue with their distinct visual appeal. Combining rich graphics and dynamic behaviour this is a technology that has focused very effectively on creating truly rich applications.
Now other similar multimedia technologies, such as Microsoft Silverlight – provide great platforms for developing sexy applications. Outside of these two proprietary options, developers are getting spoilt with huge arrays of AJax widgets, DoJo and BackBase to name just a couple.
Suddenly all applications could have the appeal and Mac like interfaces, and that what it’s all about when it comes to user interfaces isn’t it?
When it comes to applications what is more important, the appearance and dynamism of its interface or its functionality and accessibility to information? Not a difficult question to answer - especially when you consider the demands of your users and customers, the majority of whom will require the right information quickly.
Internal users especially often get used to an application user interface and are able to navigate and enter data without even looking at screens. As such the allure of these sexy interfaces soon fades and the basic premises of usability comes to the fore. Rich web applications with poor web usability will only lose your audience over time.
So don’t be fooled by Rich Internet Applications as meaning “sexy user interfaces”, using the technology to create usable applications should be your first priority.
For example Ajax has it’s place not only for creating a greater array of user interface controls than standard HTML, but also ensuring application performance is optimised especially when users are accessing the application in low bandwidth environments.
As for Adobe Flash, well it’s real strengths lie in being able to create pixel perfect print layouts and creating desktop performant applications in a browser environment.
Smart design is an important consideration, but alone it is akin to putting lipstick on a pig. In the on-demand information age, a usable application is most definitely king.