Tony Lopez has asked me if he can borrow my weblog and make a post about the new Macromedia.com site. He’s the Executive Producer of Macromedia, and managed the design, production and user experience teams that worked on the new site. Here’s what he had to say…
It’s been great hearing all of the feedback (good and bad) from the developer community. I’ve been overwhelmed by the huge reaction. I guess it makes sense. Launching Macromedia.com is like making a movie that will primarily be viewed by filmmakers.
Unlike a movie however, we have an opportunity to improve things on a daily basis. We have people reading the boards and lists, and we’re looking closely at the feedback that we are getting (did you take the survey?). We recognize that the site isn’t perfect and we have a bunch of improvements in the hopper. It’s a work in progress, and will constantly evolve. We’re going to get some things right, and we’re going to make some mistakes.
I wanted to take a moment to respond to some of the common things that I’m hearing from the community.
##Browser Compatibility Macromedia.com is a collection of 45k static pages, a bunch of dynamic applications running primarily on ColdFusion and certain sections served by third-parties. Making changes can be quite an arduous task.
In a perfect world, a change would simply work across all browsers, but we all know that it’s not that simple. So, we had to prioritize, and while we do plan on supporting all standards compliant browsers, we simply haven’t made it there yet.
We are at the mercy of the browser companies in certain cases. Opera and Safari do not support binary posts which our Flash Apps use extensively. In these cases we’ll make every effort to support those browsers where we can.
##Performance We recognize that initial loads may be higher using Flash apps. However, we’ve done extensive comparisons of other similar sites and found the Flash apps actually perform faster for the complete user experience. For example, navigating the exchanges is easier, requires less than half the page views, and is almost twice as fast as similar flows on other sites. This is also supported by the usage stats that we’ve seen in the exchanges since launch. We’ve doubled the amount of extension downloads that we’ve seen per day.
There is another side of performance, responsiveness, which refers to things like latency between an on-click event and the action that it is supposed to trigger. Our research has shown that latency can vary based on OS, browser, and hardware. Responsiveness can be an issue for users with older machines. This is further supported by our survey results. The data shows that there is no correlation between perceived performance and the modem speed.
Keep in mind that I’m not trying to make excuses for performance, and I’m definitely not saying that there isn’t room for improvement here. On the contrary, we are focusing a lot of our efforts in this area.
Once again, I want to thank everyone for their feedback, good and bad. The knowledge that we gain through this process ultimately impacts the quality of our development tools, so we’ll gladly suffer through your darts if it means better software for everyone ;-)