I am not a Luddite. Although I will always have a soft spot in my heart for actual vinyl, I am on board the digital bandwagon. Bring on the MP3s! (Ignore the fact that I am hopelessly inept at DJing in Live.) And I like a lot of things about Beatport: the broad selection of both big club hits and obscure niche tunes; the fast, high-bitrate downloads; the reasonable prices.
But their website is horrible.
Do not make a large, complicated web application in Flash! Just don’t do it! Yes, Beatport looks all high-tech and pretty. It’s also horribly difficult to use. Your browser’s back and foward buttons don’t work; if you use them, you have to start your Beatport session all over. The Beatport back and forward are in a weird place. Searching in the page doesn’t work. Bookmarks don’t work. Tabbed browsing doesn’t work. The fonts are too small, and you can’t resize them. And don’t forget the minor detail that the site was completely unusable in Linux for about a year.
The sad part is that creating an elaborate custom Flash app like this from scratch is incredibly expensive. They could have taken an open-source, web standards compliant shopping cart application and customized it for a third of the cost. (Beatport, please contact us first next time. Or hey, it’s not too late for us to fix your site…)
Eight years ago, usability expert Jakob Nielsen wrote a great summary of why Flash is “99% bad.” Sadly, Beatport must have missed the memo.