It is interesting to be getting into the RIA realm. I see the benefits on several levels (‘stickiness’ from a business perspective, general usability), but I am also very aware of the challenges.
I have a background in accessibility, so that is a large concern for me even as I want to turn to using these new technologies. I engaged a co-worker who works in the search arena, to ask him about ajax/flex/flash. His first response was the same as the accessibility response, that they’re less than ideal. What struck me, however, was the difference in how to deal with the issues.
One thing I need to remember is that there is SOME difference between the two. We were looking at rapidly changing content — that content doesn’t need to be ‘understood’ by a search engine. However, it does need to be available to users of assistive technologies. From a search perspective, a hybrid site in which the ‘main’ content is text, and therefore indexable, is ok. It’s not from an accessibility standpoint.
Avenue-A Razorfish just published an article on SOFA — (search optimized flash architecture. The idea is that the content is written to the page in XHTML and then presented via flash. The concern is that this could be considered to be cloaking. However, if the content is the same, simply presented in a different format, this should be immaterial.
I am really enjoying my work. I’m learning plenty, and am also finding there are plenty of opportunities to share my thoughts and opinions and explore other areas as well. I don’t know if it is partially due to the small size of the company and the tremendous growth they’re undergoing that processes are still fluid and there is opportunity to make an impact, but it is definitely a great environment for me!
In other news, if anyone is an information architect or a flex developer looking for a new job with a fantastic company, drop me a line… !