Comcast.com: A Good Example of Bad Web Design

Comcast.com demands that you use Flash 8

That’s what I saw when I went to pay my bill at Comcast.com, something I’ve done several times before. I do have Flash—it just happens to be Flash 7, the highest version Adobe has yet released for Linux.

The problem with making your website depend on proprietary technology, such as a particular version of Flash, is that you exclude all those who don’t have access to that proprietary technology. Because Flash is a closed-source Adobe technology, we have to rely on Adobe to let us view it. In contrast, most of the web uses open communication protocols. If you don’t like your web browser, you’re free to design your own or use one of a number of open-source browsers.

Obviously some sites like YouTube need to require Flash or another proprietary technology. However, none of the reasons a typical customer would access Comcast.com requires Flash: reading news, finding customer support information, paying bills, etc., can all be done using HTML. So why does a major company, which is in the Internet-providing business, have a needlessly exclusive website?

35 Comments

  1. Heya,

    The Flash 9 beta plugin works great. (http://labs.adobe.com/downloads/flashplayer9.html)

    If you’re using Firefox 2, it should download Flash 9 Beta when you try go to a page with Flash (when there’s no Flash plugin installed).

    Using Ff2, it crashed on every Flash page until I added this to /etc/firefox/firefoxrc: “export XLIB_SKIP_ARGB_VISUALS=1″

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