A List Apart is insiteful, to say the least.
Recently in a meeting with clients and an marcomm agency, the agency salesperson mentioned that “our flash guy can fill this whole section with some eye candy”, which is not the best way to encourage a client to invest sums of money in an engaging flash peice on the front end of their site. Ensuring impact, ROI etc. became necessary in the subsequent quotation process.
ALA’s article “In Defence of Eye Candy jumps into the fray not by justifying the flash as ‘useful, enticing, encouraging the user to engage fully”, but instead takes the position that the essentially human qualities must be addressed in any interface to promote use, not just meet usability requirements.
The interface is a human experience, generated by humans via code, and really, there is no reason to take efficiency as an ends if it does not prompt the right emotions in a user. It is called User Experience for a reason after all, and is not always a race to see what interface gets the user to the desird target content or activity in the least clicks or least time (a usual way of getting quant metrics of website UX)