It is, officially, canning and pickling season. Every year for the last four, I’ve spent most weekends in August canning a variety of pickles, salsas and other nummies to preserve the massive amount of produce that comes out of New England in late summer. One of my favorite recipes is from Hubert Keller’s terrific show on PBS, and it’s a sweet pickle with a bunch of different summer veggies. I discovered this one last year and made about a half dozen pints with the last of my farm share. I have yet to bring it somewhere where it doesn’t disappear five minutes after it’s opened.
Recently, a friend of mine had an abundance of zucchini (like you do) and wondered what to do with it – so I wanted to send her the recipe for Hubert’s excellent mixed pickle. I always make it with zucchini, as well as small carrots, radishes, white turnips, pearl onions and cauliflower. Should be easy enough, right?
Unfortunately, Hubert Keller’s website is done entirely in Flash.
There are several reasons why this is a phenomenally bad idea. For all the benefits that Flash can bring when well executed, on its best day Flash brings with it three important and tragic flaws:
- It forces all of your content into a specific height on the screen, which forces you to use scrollable boxes for any content that is longer than your screen height;
- Scrollable boxes in Flash don’t behave the way that we’re used to online. Rather than being able to use our fingers on the trackpad (for Mac) or the little roller thing on our mouse, you have to actually click on the scrollbar and manually drag it down – a process that is almost always unreliable.
- The entire site exists as a single movie – which means (and this is the most important issue) you can’t bookmark a single page for later reference.
In practical terms, this meant that, in order to get the recipe for my friend, I had to send her to his site, and tell her to navigate to the PBS show, then Recipes, then scroll down to the episode on Charcuterie, so that she could then download a PDF of the actual recipe.
And, I had to apologize to her for the fact that music would be playing the entire time she was doing this. And the fact that, because it was Flash, there was no way to actually just search for the recipe.
This experience brings me back to a fundamental point – and one that I rant about often. The first questions that should be answered before starting a web project should always be these three:
- Who are the people coming to your site?
- What are they coming there for?
- How are they used to finding that information?
If you don’t answer those three questions before you even touch things like what it should look like or what types of functionality you want, this is the kind of thing that happens. And you don’t want that to happen.
By the way, should you actually want the recipe, I’ve shared my adaptation on the recipe blog.