I read a web design article and it referred to the idea of forbidding the use of shockwave flash in a site as an extremist's point of view. I proceeded to ask myself (being one who promotes such minimalist design) if I really was just behind the times and not keeping up with the current web design trends or if there really was a valid reason for discouraging their use. I have come to the conclusion that not only can a site be more useful without the latest technologies, but can require more imagination.
My premise is that web sites by in large exist to do one thing: convey information. There are always exceptions such as sites to demo a new technology or game sites that use certain plugins in order to play. That type of site is the exception though rather than the rule. If a web site fails to convey information, then it is not serving its primary function. My recommendation is not to completely do away with everything that is not plain HTML, but to make a site that allows older browsers to read the information. If a user is blind and can only use a text browser they should still be able to access information on a site. I think it is wrong to exclude users simply because you want to use the latest technology. There are almost always options to convey a message more clearly so that you don't have to sacrifice your favorite add-on nor alienate a user of an older browser. For instance, if you want to use the Macromedia Flash plugin, you could have an alternate page for those browsers that don't have the plugin. This idea of backwards compatability isn't a new one. It has been an issue in software design for years.
I would rather have a site that was very simple but had useful information for me to use than to have a site that I had to do all sorts of contortions to use. I can understand how companies would want to have flashy graphics and sounds on their web sites, but it sends a message of disregard to users that find the site inaccessable. I often reason that if a company isn't willing to cater to me as a user on the web, why would they do anything to help me later on? If they don't care enough about me to provide easy access to the information they have to offer, why would they be any different in a business transaction?
On the other hand, if a company or web designer has taken the time to make a site accessible I will be more inclined to give that site my traffic and business. It usually doesn't take much more work to make a basic site that is viewable by everyone and then add to that to make a more full-featured site that has all the bells and whistles. In so doing you will make your site useful to everyone and increase your audience as well as show that you value your visitors.
Updated Oct 25, 2016