MTV Drops Flash Site in Favor of (Boring) HTML

After only 9 months, MTV has replaced its extremely flashy Flash site with plain old HTML. Why? Because their users complained.

As they mention in their blog, the Flash site, while something of a technical marvel,

was also something of a headache for a lot of users, so we were told.

So, what's better about the new site — can you guess?

  • It's faster.
  • The navigation is simpler.
  • The internal search works better.

Is anyone still surprised by these outcomes? I thought this has been common knowledge in the web design field for at least a couple of years.

While I applaud MTV for listening and responding to their users, I have to wonder how the first site got built in the first place? What sort of user testing was carried out and why did it not reveal that the Flash site was so overwhelmingly unpopular? Was any user testing even done?

Would anyone like to hazard a guess at how much money was wasted on the 'experiment' with the Flash site? I wouldn't be surprised if it runs into the low millions. Ouch.

As far as the new site is concerned, it looks pretty much like any other media-focused site these days (which isn't necessarily a bad thing). However, at the end of the day, it's the content that matters. Hopefully the new site gets this part right.

(via UX Magazine)

Posted on: April 25, 2007 | 2 Comments

Recent Entries in "Web General"

2 Comments Posted

I'm intrigued by the comments I've been reading on their announcement page. A lot of people don't like the new HTML-based approach. The desire to listen to music or videos while still browsing the site seems to be the one major complaint. This is something that is obviously an issue with an HTML-based site. It's going to be difficult to please everybody, no matter how you look at it.

Hmm.. you can still implement that. Nobody will beat them up for adding flash-enabled content like a player. It is still possible to achieve that with a little bit of work, of course.
I say it is much better now, but I may be too conservative :)

That is true Jonathan Snook and while I am no expert on the MTV website or the situation I would think they would please 'more' people with the HTML website than the Flash website.

I wonder if they thought about just creating a html side version of the website rather than recreating the website so soon.

I too don't see why you can't make it so that people can listen to music while they're browsing the HTML site.

I have no problem with putting a player in a popup so that you can position it anywhere on your screen.

As for the negative comments; as I've found from my own experience, you simply can't please everyone. The key is, are you pleasing the majority of your users?

It's also true to say that although I believe that regular HTML sites are intrinsically better than all-Flash sites, you can still screw up a regular site. If you take away core functionality — or break it in some way — then people are rightly going to complain.

Did you also happen to notice they got rid of auto-playing videos? I don't know about you, but few things make me crazier than when I visit a site than a bunch of crap blaring at me.

Especially if you happen to be visiting that site while at work! Busted…

I'd love to point out that MTV did a great thing when they switched to an all-Flash website, they apparently made a fully functional HTML-only version underneath. They not only created an engaging Flash experience, they used it responsibly. It's unfortunate that they had to switch, but hopefully it will give them room to innovate.

They could always try to add a persistent Flash music player, like Stage.FM has. It lets you play or add music from the main website to a flash music player in a separate window.

They probably had some brand-new top-of-the-line PCs for user testing which made the site seem snappy. The average PC is fast, but bogged down with spyware. A little thing like that can make a complex Flash site completely unusable.

I'm smiling reading this post. I count myself among the earliest adopters of flash while it was fairly unknown. In 2000 I had a fully functioning web site in plain (that wasn't that old then) html. After I looked at it, I thought it was too plain jane, that it needed some motion. I replaced it with a brand new flash site that I was very proud of. But guess what? 6 out of 10 couldn't access my site. For the remaining 4, wait times were unbearably long. That was then. Now with widespread broadband, access is much faster, but the issue with flash hasn't gone away. I'm still wondering why people use it. It's like wanting to have images jump off the page while reading a book. I haven't heard any reader complain so far...

I will always like html web design instead of fancy flash website.

It is good they care and listen the users.

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