Apple announced yesterday that the iphone will not support flash (here).

A reader asked me awhile back about optimizing websites for the iPhone which I immediately dismissed as ridiculous and then, what do you know, I was out of the office later that day and tried to access a photographers contact info by going to their website on my palm phone because I didn’t have it in my database and couldn’t do it because of the flash so I thought ok, maybe there’s something to this.

In the larger scheme of things nobody will ever receive or lose a job based on the ability of their portfolio to render on a palm phone or iphone but more and more I find myself using google as a phone book instead of carefully entering photographers contact info into my database like I used to do.

It looks like a company called MoFuse (here), (TechCrunch report here) has a free and paid solution to the problem I’m just not sure how well it works with image galleries.

Recommended Posts


  1. Right as I finish my flash based website, and ready to pick up an iphone… classic.

  2. Before signing up with Livebooks, I inquired about their ability to show up on the iPhone, considering iPhones were originally released without Flash and their was no answer to whether they would in the future. They assured me they were talking to Apple to work something out. After getting the iPhone for Christmas, the first place I looked up was my new Livebooks site. Sure enough, my site didn’t showed up, but there was a link to “Click here to view the HTML version of this webiste”. So, in the end, it seems to be a workaround for those without Flash and users of the iPhone. It’s not the most aesthetically pleasing, but it works, and doesn’t discriminate against those without Flash. I guess this answers the question as to what was worked out.

  3. to see if your website works… show it to a blind person. well, he might not be able to actually *see* your pictures, but he can still get a very good overview about everything else.
    and if he cant give you a call or write an email, you definitly did something wrong.

  4. Sites like offer a solution.

    My site is iphone ready. It offers the ability to reformat sites where flash isn’t available.

    They do this free of charge. I think it’s a great deal.

  5. It’s not a deal breaker but I DO want my site to be a visible as possible and that means internet devices like the iphone.

    Right now people that own the phone often just want to try out different sites and if that means they browse my site then cool but Im not expecting a job out of it.

    It seems that Livebooks could care less about an iphone site and that sux.

  6. I’m with David Lynch: “Are you fucking kidding me?”

    Has it reached this new low? A new paranoia that now you’ll miss that new Microsoft campaign because your site is not viewable on an iphone?

    The only redeeming value out of this conversation is what Rob refers to — the ability to simply retrieve your phone number from an iphone, when someone is totally in the crunch. How hard could that be — for the browser to know it was being viewed from an Iphone browser, and then it automatically does a redirect to a simple HTML page with 96-point type with a phone number, and/or email address?

    Beyond that, please stop. What’s next? Paranoia about your client being able to view your website thru your shitty PhaseOne LCD, while you’re shooting a job for them?

    How low can we stoop here? This site makes me have hives. Every day, a new thing to feel shitty about. Enough.

  7. See here for some good reasons why we won’t be seeing Flash on the iPhone anytime soon:

    Anyone developing a web site for themselves, whether they build it themselves or get someone else to do it, has to at least consider the underlying technology behind the site. And Flash, while it can look very pretty, is a technology that is owned by a large company that has competitors that don’t necessarily want to deal with it. XHTML and CSS are free and work pretty damn well with almost all browsers.

  8. Making your info available to as many people as possible goes directly to the root of having a website at all, so why would you not want to make it as accessible as possible to anyone and everyone?

    In larger more technologically advanced societies they are dumping laptops all together and using hand held devices on the road with lower cost desk tops in their offices/homes.

    Many sites offer an html or flash choice as they first pop up to solve this design vs. function dilemma.

    Of course, you can always write Steve Jobs and let him know what you want in your iphone’s capabilities….add a video camera to the list if you do take the time to write, for me.

  9. well youtube videos work on the iphone, i could be really wrong by its my understanding they are flash based, but flash videos that arent youtube dont work, at first i found this interesting, till i remembered that we live in a world of back room contracts and deals, like how editorial rates dont ever go up and how PEs can do nothing about it, same reasons you have flash video already working on your iphone, but not any other flash video not owned by youtube, and you can do nothing about it.

    we’ve all been in a crunch and needed some odd morsel of info, but if you are in a position to hire photographers, like a photographer, that number should already be handy in your phone. or, since you have that phone in your hand already, call your assistant, they can look it up some older fashion way like google.

  10. Many creatives have iphones, and for myself I want as those people to be able to access my work whenever possible. If they’re in a meeting and away from their computer and want to see my work, I think it’s great that my website can be formatted for that purpose. It’s not a great pain to have that option and thats why clickbooq even has that option. not sure why livebooks doesn’t.

    But regarding the comment about David Lynch, it’s taken out of context. He was referring to the experience of a big screen cinema film being viewed on a iphone. He wasn’t referring to iphones in general or viewing photography on iphones.

    it’s just another tool, so why not be ready for it?

  11. I doubt anyone is ever going to hire a photographer for any significant job based on how their portfolio looks on the screen of an iPhone. but I can imagine someone making a quick decision to call in a portfolio that way. if it works, why not? it’s just another tool at our disposal.

  12. What i’d do is check the header/user-agent of each person hitting my site and deliver content especially for them.

    Running a flash-rich site but still want to appeal to those like APE using handhelds, easy, redirect them when you see the predefined headers and give them the option of viewing the site using their mobile browser.

    This isn’t a large amount of work, but would make the experience all the better for mobile users.

  13. Look, I’m totally against fear based consumption so again I will say nobody would ever lose a job over this but I’ve spent a good portion of my corporate life in meetings and I know that browsing websites on a phone is awesome for meeting boredom.

  14. I actually checked my site against the iPhone. You lose some navigating capability, but you can still set around.

  15. I don’t Rob, I just can’t seem to get all worked up about some twenty-something creative who needs to look at a web site on an iphone.

    I’d rather take my time to focus on a select group of clients, try to woo and keep them, rather than trying to broadly appeal to a majority of people.

    This feels like much ado about nothing.

  16. Thanks for this post, Rob.

    I’m working on redesigning my own site, and plan to use a combination of Flash (in the form of a slideshow on the home page) and XHTML/CSS that will be used for the templates handled by my content management system.

    Right now, my XHTML/CSS templates are validating (with the XHTML checking in at XHTML 1.0 Transitional). Can anyone tell me if I’ll need to validate at XHTML Strict to be viewable on an iPhone? And will I need to write a separate style sheet for mobile devices like the iPhone?

    Reason for the question: One of my beta-testers is an iPhone fanatic, and I’d like for him to see my site.

  17. Every time I’ve visited a flash based portfolio website I’ve come away with a negative experience – whether that is because the majority of sites are just plain badly coded, there’s an inherent flaw in using flash for portfolios, or I’m a luddite, I just can’t decide.

    But I know one thing, I’ll opt for the simple approach every time, any barrier just isn’t worth it: and if the ipod helps bury pure flash sites, or at least helps to offer plain old html as an alternate experience, then I’m all for it.

  18. Flash is an old outdated and inefficient technology that shouldn’t be used to build websites.

    However like most things, it is the most common therefore most used… that doesn’t mean its good.

    I’m with livebooks and have asked when they will abandon flash with no real answer. At least they now have the “html” option which is better than nothing.


  19. I just did a survey of buyers, editorial, advertising, and corporate, and more of them are using iPhones and the like for email and the occasional peek at photographers’ websites. At this point, as long as your stuff shows up on the iPhone, then you’re are okay. That is, they aren’t grading on style in this medium. When they look at a site on a device like that, it is either an “emergency” or some sort of immediate gratification situation. If they are interested, they’ll look again when they have access to a computer.

    So, you are ahead of the curve if you have an iPhone-friendly site, but it’s not going to kill you not to. Livebooks sites are fine–your stuff still shows up and you are a presence in that space. That’s the bar at this point–just to be visible.

    Over time I’m sure this will evolve, but for now, I would just make sure that there is something there that these devices can access at least, but do not panic and redesign if it doesn’t look completely smurfy.


  20. Thanks a lot for the mention Ed.

    The reason I created it is because I noticed that a lot of click-throughs from my email campaigns came from iPhones. If I’m not at the office, I’m getting all my e-mail on my phone, and I know they are too. Who knows how many people just deleted the e-mail because they assumed it would lead to an inaccessible flash site? At the time, it would have been rerouted to an HTML version, which is what Livebooks, etc. are all doing.

    I didn’t think that was too user-friendly, because there was no uniformity of style, and that led to a lot of zooming in and searching on the page for the relevant links.

    My iPhone version is designed to work like your iPod (which everyone’s familiar with), using CSS and XHTML. The links are much more obvious, so if you just need a number, it’s very easy to find. Of course, because it’s photography, it works better on wi-fi, but that comes with the territory. I’ve intentionally kept the number of images low, to encourage them to visit the main Flash-based site.

    You can only see it by typing in my regular site address on your iPhone. It’s certainly not perfect, but it’s gotten a pretty good response because it’s simple and shows the images, and contact info, cleanly. It sounds stupid, but the fact that people can navigate it with only one hand on the phone, instead of the hold/zoom thing is important too.

  21. yet another reason not to have a purely flash based portfolio website. photographers have to start realised that their website is a marketing tool, and thus, must be accessible to all.

  22. Not image based, but you could place equipment orders on an iphone through granted that you have an account with us.
    Really good for the photographer on the go.

  23. I have just made a website using a template. They specifically generate an iPhone and blackberry compatible website and is one of the reasons I went for it. Fairly primitive but definitely effective and visibility is everything imho.

  24. It did seem a bit ridiculous yet on a three day shoot in late December, with an AD from an agency in LA, I could not help but notice how important the I-phone was to her. Even though she had a macbook pro too.. her I-phone was being used for more than just the few phone calls she received.

    It may have been primarily for e-mail, but I thought to myself it would be nice to have my site be visible by those waiting in airports, subways or just to get my contact info while out of the office.

    I believe, like many have expressed, it’s a long shot that I’d get hired by an art buyer or PE by simply viewing my site on an i-phone. As Rob pointed out, Most of us are now using google as a phone book so at lease my contact info might not be a bad thing!


  25. As April pointed out in #17 we have a separate, non-flash mobile site. The key is having your web developer write a script that will push a mobile device from your Flash site to the mobile site automatically.
    If you enter on a iphone or blackberry you get transfered to the mobile site automatically.
    It isn’t that I think I will get work from someone seeing the site on an iphone. But, mobile sites are import and likely to become more so. Having a mobile site shows that I at least understand that.
    Not to mention it is really cool

  26. I made an iPhone version of my site when the phone launched her in the UK. I do get iPhones browsing it, so I guess it was worth the little effort it took to do!!! I do need to sort out a auto-redirect though!

  27. […] of blog A Photo Editor and professional photography portfolio software A Photo Folio, wrote in 2008: A reader asked me awhile back about optimizing websites for the iPhone which I immediately […]

Comments are closed for this article!