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When a Flex App Becomes a Web Site?

Posted by Charles | December 17, 2007 .

There are attempts to develop Flex web applications. Most of them I’ve seen are Flex applications on web. While Flash is omnipresent, people still feel odd and disoriented when getting on a Flex application while surfing the web. The usability of a windows style Flex application is indeed different from HTML web site. Going either directions, turn-web-to-desktop or leave-as-it-is, using Flex is OK with me. I just want to see people do it right. I think the Ultrashock guys did it right.

Ultrashock is a commerce site that basically selling multimedia assets. However, the site is developed (or redeveloped) in Flex and it closely reassembles a general HTML web site use experience. That approach actually makes the Flex (or Flash) features stand out. People will naturally and mentally compare browsing experience when jumping from site to site. At Ultrashock, they will compare it with the rest of the HTML web site. Therefor, it certainly gives Ultrashock a big advantage from usability stand point. That’s what happens when a Flex application becomes a web site.

I like its business model too. You sign up and buy credits, one dollar one credit. Then you browse through the contents to find the assets you like, while UI is very attractive so that you search and view will be very enjoyable (so that you will be willing to spend more time searching, clever.) When you find the one you love, download it by paying with your credits, there are lots of one credit good looking assets. That’s it.

ultrashock When a Flex App Becomes a Web Site?

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6 Comments so far
  1. Tony Fendall  December 17, 2007 1:24 pm

    You make a good point, but something inside me still thinks that flex apps should be applications, and that trying to force an application into a document metaphor isn’t the right way to go.

  2. Tom Van den Eynde  December 18, 2007 8:12 am

    I actually think that using Flex to build ‘websites’ isn’t such a bad idea after all. You get rid of all the quirks of HTML, Javascript, … and get all the nice stuff (that you can enhance yourself). I do think however that the actual content of each ‘page’ should remain available as xhtml & hyperlinks for Google etc (the Flex-based output for the first page could be shown by applying XSLT to the XML document – more info at the end of It’s however perfectly possible to generate Flex GUIs based on the same XML. In other words: it’s time for Flex-based CMS solutions that have an eye for Google page rank.

  3. JonR  December 18, 2007 7:31 pm

    We allowed ourselves to be trapped in the document-centric world in order to transition from desktop apps to the internet, and users have adapted to the dumbed-down application interfaces. I don’t think we should assume that users can’t make the transition back to rich interactivity, though we have a clear opportunity to try to establish standards of UI behavior to make applications more intuitive while making them much richer than their HTML counterparts.

    A rather poor analogy might be to say that since someone is used to reading a newspaper, then couldn’t deal with a well constructed RSS aggregator/portal.

  4. glen  June 18, 2008 3:29 pm

    How do I get my index file to point to my flex app. I created a web page with Flex 2 now I want to put it on my site. Help!!!!!!

  5. FlexBandit  August 31, 2008 7:29 pm

    Hi Charles,

    I do think you have a good point. Perhaps a demographic study on these sites would help people to make decisions on the type of user. Either way, it’s pretty easy to make a Flex site behave like an HTML one… except for the initial loading.

    BTW glen, I hope you managed to figure out your embedded swf problem.


  6. Fadi  July 17, 2009 7:09 am

    I agree with you when someone use flex or flash for a website they crush their competition since both apps give a website a outstanding look a better transition and a superior functionality and interactivity.


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