Put The Flash Down And Step Away From Your Website!

As a follow-up to The Ugly Website article from 11/28/2011, I wanted to take a moment to cover something I left out of that piece but is a crucial bit of information everyone needs to be aware of.

It was summed up best among the stream of useful tweets coming from session attendees when one of them captured the following phrase from my portion of the session: “Flash for mobile is dead. Get Flash off your website.”

Although the news certainly made the rounds throughout the tech blog circuit it hasn’t really made much of an appearance in the arts tech niche, but here’s the key piece of info you need to know; in early November Adobe announced that development on a Flash Player for mobile devices was officially discontinued.

Thanks to the popularity of iPhones and its long standing incompatibility with Flash, a comparatively large swath of Smartphone users regularly encounter frustrating series of broken links and unusable websites that rely on Flash generated functionality.

And even though it was entirely understandable for orchestras which rely on Flash to adopt a “wait and see” approach pending the outcome of Adobe’s Flash Player for mobile devices efforts, the time has come to accept and acknowledge that is not going to be an option.

Here’s What You Need To Do

First off, don’t panic. Your online presence isn’t going to suddenly come crashing down around you, but you do need to adopt the following measures as they apply to your situation:

  • Identify and catalog all of the Flash driven elements on your website.
  • Begin making immediate plans to substitute those elements with mobile friendly replacements as soon as possible. Make a firm goal of replacing them by the end of January 2012.
  • Make sure you understand the difference between apps and mobile optimized websites; meaning, creating an App as your primary mobile platform point of contact to replace a Flash riddled website is probably not the solution some might think.
  • If your developer is giving you grief or seems a bit too pricey gougey for bringing your site into compliance with mobile friendly standards, don’t be afraid to play hardball. Here’s how: check your agreement; does it mention that your site will be optimized with mobile platforms (including iPhone)? If so, then you’ve got a good case that modifications should be made without cost to you in order for your provider to meet the terms of the agreement (remember, Adobe has abandoned Flash for mobile). If you don’t have that language in your agreement, well, you just learned a hard lesson. Chalk it up to experience and get a new provider who will include that in the deliverables.
  • If your website incorporates Flash to such a degree that in order to make it mobile ready, you would have to pretty much replace it; be weary of anyone telling you to simply spend more money to create a mobile version of the site. Although that might solve the problem, it will likely put your group in a position where every time you need to make a change to the main website, you have to pay an additional fee and/or double up on work-hours implementing those changes at the mobile version. If that’s the case, simply find a new provider and get a new site that is mobile optimized. It might mean a longer target date than Jan, 2012 but it will be worth it ([sws_css_tooltip position=”center” colorscheme=”rosewood” width=”500″ url=”” trigger=”tip” fontSize=”14″]If your budget prohibits a full blown redesign project, consider porting the existing content over to the new platform; meaning everything remains the same but it sits on a new – and mobile ready – delivery vehicle. This should take considerably less time and be more affordable. [/sws_css_tooltip]).

This process isn’t something you want to bury your head in the sand over so the sooner you jump into it, the better.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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