Saturday, June 30th, 2007

This is just another brief whine about the misuse of Flash on the web for forms. Today’s culprit is SuperCuts, who will give you $2 off the first time and $1 each time off thereafter if you sign up for their haircut reminder service.

Bad Flash-based SuperCuts form’s non-functional form
(not as pretty as’s)

Unlike the fine folks at KYintrigue, SuperCuts doesn’t think babies born last year will be signing up (you have to be 18 at SuperCuts but not at KY), but their form is plagued by the usual problems. You can tab from first name to last name, but hit tab again and you land on email address. Don’t they want you to fill out birthday? Sure they do (it’s asterisked), but you must use your mouse to enter it. Ugh.

What makes stuff like this worse is the premium that corporate types are paying to get it. I know of a national organization that paid $10,000 for a Flash-based web site and then wondered afterwards why they couldn’t do things like highlight text and copy it or bookmark individual pages, all the sorts of things people have learned to expect from regular HTML pages. What’s even more insane is that it takes extra time (and thus extra money) to develop these forms in Flash that lack the functionality of regular HTML forms. Oh, but they’re pretty, aren’t they?

Update 5/1/2013: I had occasion to read this blog entry again, and sure enough, SuperCuts has updated its profile registration form to be just a plain HTML version. Not as pretty as their old Flash form, but oh so much more functional.

Monday, June 11th, 2007's pretty but non-functional form
One of my pet peeves when it comes to websites is the use of Flash. There are times when it can be appropriate, to show an animation or for a game, for example, but there are many more times when developers use Flash just to make something pretty without considering how much functionality they're disabling.

Consider the pretty sweepstakes entry form at (don't ask how I got there) — a very sophisticated stylishly adult site featuring translucent dropdown boxes for state, month, day and year, none of which allow you to select values using the keyboard. See how easy the designer of this form has made it for babies born in 2006 and 2005 to select their birthdates? He or she obviously has no clue that in Firefox (and now in IE7 too) on a regular HTML dropdown you can select a value in the list by typing it. Would you rather select your birth year of 1965 by typing those 4 digits or by clicking on a slider and dragging it until you find 1965? You know my answer already.
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