Augustiner Brau : Brewing trouble
Flash is exercised with little regard for usability.
Augustiner Brau, a Munich-based German beer producer, makes it difficult to steer a way through the premium version of its website.
Augustiner Brau controls entry to its site through a series of portal pages. The first two require, respectively, nomination of a language (German, Italian or English), and a confirmation of age. Visitors then must opt for one of two versions: Flash or HTML.
The Flash version opens on an animation that occupies the full screen apart from a thin blue vertical strip to the left in which the word ‘menu’ is inverted at the top to read upward. Passing the cursor over the strip causes it to expand into the page to show a set of primary and secondary navigation links. These respond to clicking in the standard way, opening the destination page, but the strip stays in place, overlaying a portion of the page content. The strip retracts only when the cursor is moved off it. In the HTML version, the extended navigation panel is a permanent feature and does not encroach on page content.
Gaining entry to the Augustiner Brau site puts a demand on patience, though some of this is down to legal necessity (discouraging underage drinking) and in reality is not much more onerous than any other signing-in process – with the advantage of not requiring a password to be remembered (helpful if you’ve already sampled the product before arriving). But what excuses there might be for any frustration caused cannot be extended to the experience presented by the Flash-based version of the site. Here, navigation behaves as if inebriated, with no semblance of user friendliness. The mouse-over menu is over-minimalised to the point where it subverts this increasingly common feature, forcing visitors to use it to call up even the primary options. Yet it also manages to be over-obtrusive once opened. Moving away from it to close the overlay is less instinctive than if it ran horizontally at the top of the page because its positioning vertically to the left is unconventional for mouseover navigation.
The limited amount of Flash-enabled content beyond the opening animation questions why a separate version is needed, and the experience it delivers reinforces the impression that those in charge should take a more sober look at why – as well as how – they use the technology.http://www.augustiner-braeu.de
First published on 09 June, 2011