In October 2013, one of FWA's most experienced and senior judges posted a comment whilst juding a website for Site Of The Day:
"This is the reason why Flash cannot die..."
This comment was the catalyst I needed to write this article.
You may or may not know that FWA was established in the year 2000, at a time when Macromedia Flash was taking over the web. For the next ten years, FWA's Site Of The Day (SOTD) would be a Flash project almost every day.
There were the occasional days when we would feature a non-Flash site as SOTD and even, more rarely, an HTML site as SOTD.
However, in late 2009 and early 2010 we were seeing a shift away from Flash as iPhone began to dictate the direction forward. In April 2010, when Steve Jobs posted his Thoughts on Flash, the final nail was plummeted into Flash's coffin.
Flash became the taboo subject for clients and agencies and, ultimately, we'd see Flash drop off a cliff edge.
The main argument against the use of Flash was how it was not device friendly and how, moving forward, clients wanted sites that worked seamlessly across mobile, tablet and desktop.
FWA has always been a benchmark for the trends in digital design and we quickly noticed how the rate of Flash SOTD winners dropped. In 2010 we saw a drop of about 50% Flash SOTDs, today, in late 2013, we're only seeing a few Flash projects a month pick up a SOTD.
What is interesting is how we have dropped a technology that could pretty much do anything the mind could imagine, and this could be, and still is, deployed across desktops, and almost any browser, with ease and smoothness.
Whilst the likes of HTML5, WebGL, Three.js framework etc has given the power to anyone to create their imaginations without the need for a plug-in, we are already seeing how many of the most progressive digital experiences struggle in a big way to work on mobile and tablets. We're also experiencing those longer loading times as we did with Flash. Many HTML5 projects are browser dependant as well. Whilst HTML5 was sold to us as the future, and maybe it is in the short term, we're seeing it as something that has replaced Flash rather than something that has transformed the web, which is what Flash did.
It is without a doubt that the future is in code and not plug-ins but it's become very apparent that some bold agencies and brave clients, or should we say logical agencies and sensible clients, are turning back to Flash to deliver the most incredible digital experiences still in 2013... 3 years after the book on Flash was slammed shut.
Some of the world's leading digital agencies, especially those who pioneered with Flash, are pushing the envelope without the need for a plug-in, as we often see with the winners of The Cutting Edge Award. It's also worth noting that some of these agencies are still using Flash, albeit very occasionally.
The digital void we still have is the lack of courage which we had from 1997-2010, when imagination was the only thing that might have held creatives back. It seems that websites in particular, have lost energy and character, as a whole.
Nike Better World was an innovator in late 2010, with HTML5, giving us the one page parallax scrolling website, yet two years on we are still seeing this style and idea being launched daily for clients and individuals. The "skip intro" years of Flash will always stick in my mind as I look back on the history of the web but so will the "scrolling years" of HTML5.
Creativity has been stifled and the lack of courage has become apparent but thankfully there are still those who work with innovating ideas rather than following what others are doing.
The website wobble is in its last phase, as we see many brands look away from Facebook pages as their only digital presence. We are seeing a resurgence of micro-sites and a huge amount of offline digitisation, with the likes of installations, real world experiences and even outdoor websites!
Anyway... let's get back to what started this article and take a look at ten Flash projects from 2013 that still demonstrate how powerful Flash is and can still be.
It's important to note that the following list of ten amazing projects is in no way trying to say the future for your clients lies in Flash but it's just a reminder that Flash is still an incredibly powerful piece of software and that it's still very well present in this world of HTML5.
10 Reasons Why Flash Cannot Die
adidas NEO - Live Your Style
"Live Your Style". A completely shoppable, online, interactive look book for adidas NEO featuring the global style icon Justin Bieber.
adidas - Nitrocharge your game
Video demo: http://vimeo.com/67054221
The new adidas Nitrocharge boot is all about energy for the Engine - the player teams depend upon. Where others stop, he continues, relentlessly, ferociously! Are you a true engine?…Prove it. Nitrocharge your game.
Video demo: http://vimeo.com/55446744
GOING GREY the interactive access map movie. music by TOWA TEI.
LIFE COLOR CLOCK
Video demo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HfLG4_ceyw
Create your LIFE COLOR CLOCK
Video demo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zOaAA5i340
LIFESAVER is a crisis simulator, which fuses interactivity and live-action film to teach CPR in a new way, on your computer, smartphone or tablet.
LINCOLN PRESENTS: HELLO, AGAIN
Video demo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnOmrDzRrGQ
Beck reimagines Bowie's "Sound and Vision" with 160+ musicians, as a fully immersive 360º interactive experience via The Lincoln Motor Company.
Magnum Pleasure Hunt 5 Lost Kisses
Video demo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqJKPZTiKMQ
Turning the tables on the classic computer game story of prince saves princess, we created five unique games, all set in Paris, where the prince is kidnapped and you, the heroine, set out to save him.
Perfect Storms Interactive
This experience allows users to re-create historical disasters using an artful blend of design, interaction and 3D animation. The site is an online extension to History’s documentary series, Perfect Storms.
Video demo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVNLL98ExZU
Perrier Secret Place is a project which mixes brand entertainment and gaming. It’s an interactive film where you are invited to live a party through the eyes of the guests. The goal is to find the secret bottle.
The Defector is a first person interactive documentary where the viewer attempts escape from North Korea. Users progress through a linear story created from interviews and testimonials from real defectors.
The ultimate question is... is Flash really dead or is it waiting to deal a knockout blow to HTML5 in the coming years?
Finally, I'd like to mention that I am currently in the middle of writing a massive article, potentially a book (or maybe just to be published online) called The History of Flash Websites. It's taken me years of study and experience to bring together and I am still gathering data. I'm hoping to publish it in 2014 and for it to be a legacy piece that will mark a period of the web that we must never forget.
Will history repeat itself and we'll see Flash come full circle and return with a B A N G ? ? ! ! ;)