Flash Technology - Value Pros and Cons
By Arthur Browning
There are some undeniable benefits to well designed Flash Intros, Flash Webpages and Flash Templates. Heavy emphasis is needed here on the words well designed. Without strong esthetics and excellent code a Flash experience can be very bad, and cost you visitors.
The current wisdom on Flash applications for webpages and templates is that Flash should be used only if it fulfills a real need and purpose - and does so without any extenuating problems. Deciding when and how to use Flash are the big issues here.
A Flash designer can often accomplish this goal, but it takes real skill in design and esthetics, as well as dedication to your particular project. This can be very expensive.
Besides esthetic eloquence and consummate coding there are some very practical necessities to be realized in the best Flash webpage:
Ease and speed of loading throughout the webpage - Few visitors will suffer waiting for your wonderful technology to load, even if it's marvelous, especially if it's the second time they have visited and your Flash effects were not that marvelous. It becomes more of a burden than it's worth.
Allowing the visitor some control - You have to provide a "Skip Intro" button or you will lose many visitors, especially if they don't have broadband, or it's a slow internet day,etc. Surfers have been conditioned not to "waste" time on faulty websites.
Ease of navigation - Do not obscure your webpage's navigation with problems like "finding the link" or "chasing the link", or other poorly devised Flash effects.
Provide static HTML links - This will prevent the problems listed above. This allows visitors to see and use the link to leave the Flash sequence. It also allows search engine bots to index your pages.
Display a loading bar to show progress of the Flash load - This prevents visitor discouragement at waiting and let's the visitor decide when to skip the flash intro. These loading indicators can follow the theme of the page (e.g. A wine glass being filled for a restaurant webpage).
Use the technology that least requires additional downloads and plugins for the visitor - Most people, especially non-geeks, do not trust or have the patience for extra downloads or time consuming plug-in information boxes.
MUTE button for music and sound effects - Many people prefer their own music or silence to your music or sound effects. And they don't want the frustration of having to decide when and how to turn it off. A well displayed "Sound OFF" or "MUTE" button solves the problem."
Add keywords to meta tags and as plain text - Don't depend on just the keywords in the HTML comments, make sure the spiders see your keywords.
Getting a well designed Flash website can be expensive - so while you are shopping around don't forget Flash Templates. These are already designed Flash webpages that only need to be modified to your personalized preferences. Flash Templates already incorporate theme-based graphics, navigation system, motion effects, music and sound effects. If you find a good Flash Template it could save your hundreds to thousands of dollars on your design.
Flash Templates along with pre-designed Flash Intros are often used by designers to save time and money on a projects. In fact there are a few Flash Templates offered for FREE. One good example of a free Flash Template that you can demo is found at Template Monster. Buying a Flash Template is also a possibility and the prices are much better than a fully original design. Make sure that whatever Flash Template you use it is fully validated in it's code and links.
Flash Templates can be modified easily to fit your website, so they are a good value if you can find one that suits your market and company image. Flash Templates that enhance your image must follow all the above rules as well as having attractive pictures, movements and music.
Arthur Browning from Web Templates Blog
About the Author
Arthur Browning began his career teaching technical writing in a small Midwestern university for 15 years. He later edited and published a national professional journal for some ten years. He is now an investor. His interests include art collecting, web marketing, writing.
Arthur Browning Web Templates Blog
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