II. The Process
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The journey metaphor for developing usable Macromedia Flash

This process started as an understanding that it is easier to make usability part of a project from the beginning, not as something tacked on at the end. Think of using content as a journey with a starting point, a series of roads to travel and a final destination.

Macromedia Flash content is like taking a trip

Using Macromedia Flash content is like taking a journey from start to finish. The clients for the project want to their users to arrive at the destination. They are the ones paying for the journey. The Macromedia Flash developer is the travel agent, tasked to make sure users can get to the destination. And the user of the Macromedia Flash content is the one taking the journey.

Usability measures how enjoyable the journey is

The client has hired the developer, as travel agent, to get as many people to complete the journey as possible. For the developer, the goal is to make sure that the trip is enjoyable for the user. That means the Macromedia Flash content must be usable (according to the definition of "usability" outlined in Part I of this white paper). Each user who abandons the journey and each user who has a bad time will detract from the overall success of the project.

Success means meeting the goal

The success of the effort can be measured against the goals of the project. The client's goal, the end destination of the user's journey, is their main reason for hiring the developer to create the Macromedia Flash content. This destination may be announcing a new product or training users on a new technology. For many clients, the primary goal to reach with the content may be to drive sales leads and gather contact information of qualified candidates. With other projects, especially artistic endeavors, the journey itself may be the goal, in which case usability might not be applicable.

Users' goal is their reason to interact with the content. Each user may have a different reason for taking the journey, and each user's level of desire to achieve that goal will factor into how much poor usability the user will be willing to put up with. The developer can only begin to imagine all the different reasons a user might have for interacting with the Macromedia Flash content. It is best to focus user goals using offers.

For most commercial projects a user is given incentive to reach the client's goal. In marketing jargon this incentive is called the "offer." An offer can involve anything from information the user needs to a downloadable piece of software. A strong offer will help to make the client's goal part of the user's goal.

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