I’ve been spending the last few days updating my website – kimayres.co.uk – not that you’d notice a huge amount of difference.
At first glance the only real change would seem to be a slight shift in emphasis to encourage people to follow my portrait photography page on Facebook, or go off and re-pin some of my photos on Pinterest.
However, the thing that’s been taking up all my time and had me pulling chunks of my beard out in frustration, has been altering the gallery on the front page to make it look more or less like it already did. What it all comes down to is Adobe Flash.
If you are using an ordinary desktop or laptop computer you might periodically have been prompted to download the latest Flash Player to make sure you can continue to enjoy sites and applications using the most up to date versions.
Flash is a system, or platform, that allows all sorts of fancy extras on a web page – video, animation and even sound. As such it has been used for many years by people wanting to create a richer interactive experience with their websites. In fact, some designers have even built entire websites out of it.
It has its downsides – if your entire site is built using it (as many arty sites are), it’s crap for your rankings in the search engine results, and people with visual disabilities using text readers can’t make sense of it. However, used sparingly it can be very effective for things like creating scrolling image galleries, like I had.
Unfortunately Apple, for some reason never adequately explained to me, decided not to support Flash on their iPhones or iPads. So on these devices, when you turn up to a site using Flash, instead of getting any kind of rich, visual, interactive experience, you get a notification that you need to update your Flash player, which you cannot do, thereby rendering that portion of the website inaccessible.
Frustrating for the iPhone and iPad users, but even more maddening for those who work in a very visual medium such as photography, and suddenly realise that because of the widespread success of these Apple devices, a significant percentage of our target audience can no longer see examples of our work on our front page.
I’ve known about this problem for some time, but I’ve also known that trying to find a non-Flash alternative for the way I wanted my front page to look, was going to be time consuming and irritating. Consequently I’ve been ignoring it, hoping the problem would somehow go away. But when Maggie recently got an iPad it really brought home to me just how appalling the effect of this €$%&ing decision by Apple was on my site.
Having lost far too many days trying to find free bits of code that would do what I wanted it to, and investigating areas of programming my head was never designed for, a couple of days ago I eventually gave up and settled on paying £77 for a program called WOW Slider. It’s taken since then to properly work out how to use it and insert it into my site in such a way that it now appears to function whatever browser I use.
Anyway, it’s now done, and I’ve added a few new photos into the gallery while I was at it. If you are so inclined, please feel free to go and take a look and let me know which image you would chose to have as first in the sequence - kimayres.co.uk