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Old February 22nd, 2007, 07:05 AM   #1
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Flash or No Flash...That is the Question

Just wondering what the community uses for your company websites.

And what kind of feedback you get from visitors?

Flash
Flash Enabled (Headers etc.)
HTML
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Old February 24th, 2007, 02:53 PM   #2
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Personally, I'm not a massive fan of Flash. I think in the right environment, its a useful tool, but if I'm going to use a website, I much prefer a PHP/SQL style environment than a flash one. I like my right click options, I like the fact that all the processing is done server side, and when it comes to things like ecommerce I feel a lot safer. I don't think I would ever purchase anything from a flash based store.

But its just a personal viewpoint, I know others love Flash, whereas I prefer fast load times, with content driven sites over ones that force animations, sounds etc.
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Old February 24th, 2007, 03:50 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James Connors
Personally, I'm not a massive fan of Flash. I think in the right environment, its a useful tool, but if I'm going to use a website, I much prefer a PHP/SQL style environment than a flash one. I like my right click options, I like the fact that all the processing is done server side, and when it comes to things like ecommerce I feel a lot safer. I don't think I would ever purchase anything from a flash based store.

But its just a personal viewpoint, I know others love Flash, whereas I prefer fast load times, with content driven sites over ones that force animations, sounds etc.
I have heard and agree with the sentiment that "flashing" logos and messages is really a cry for attention, kind of like putting ones name in really large letters on a business card, OR TYPING IN CAPS. However I've spoken to two website designers who both mentioned they prefer flash.

What's going on? Is it a sophistication issue? Why would I want to flash anything to someone as a first impression?
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Old February 24th, 2007, 04:18 PM   #4
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Its probably because they're "designers" and therefore tools like flash come a lot more natural to them than actual coding and database manipulation. I spent 4 years in a university where their idea of a multimedia course was to try and force me to use Flash as a way of doing everything. Naturally I didn't take to the course kindly, and my $20,000 debt doesn't exactly feel worthwhile.
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Old February 24th, 2007, 04:23 PM   #5
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Flash, when used skillfully, can be really impressive sometimes. For example, cinematographer Scott Duncan's site www.scottduncanfilms.com is very cool in my opinion.

Also, www.salesforce.com always has pretty wicked Flash animations as the header on it's home page. Flash animations of that quality sort of scream "money!".

I think Flash can really make a site impressive, when done right and done tastefully; and good Flash developers aren't cheap. It is not always appropriate for certain kinds of sites, like e-commerce as someone mentioned. And making a Flash site that is easy-to-use is an art in itself. I think it's just like anything else, it's how you use it that matters.
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Old February 24th, 2007, 06:42 PM   #6
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There are plenty of valid business applications for flash sites such as a room decorating utility, clothing catalogs, etc. There was a pretty cool cattle auction app a couple of years ago that garnered a lot of attention. Problem is, you must be careful not to put a wall between you and your potential customer. If your website is a hobby site then have at it and be as creative and restrictive as you want. But if you are trying to connect to your customer base don't throw a roadblock in the way. You can create an elegant and functional site using straight HTML and CSS. Take a look at http://www.csszengarden.com. I've noticed that as you move up the food chain in a company there is less likelihood that the person (the one with the money to spend) is going to have the latest version of the various browsers and plugins needed to take advantage of your flash app. If that person sees a blank screen or a message telling him to change/upgrade browsers he is likely to think the person creating the site was incompetent, which is not the preferred outcome. If you use flash be sure to put flash version detection on your page and make a seamless transition to a pure HTML page if the user's browser isn't up to snuff.
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Old February 24th, 2007, 08:44 PM   #7
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What I find interesting is that when it's all said and done, the basics usually win out, such as, how about narrow text columns that are about 5-10 words wide rather than text that spans across the entire computer screen. In other words, emulating a newspaper column makes far more sense than any other text design when it comes to the written word, even if it's on a computer screen. This simple concept of narrow text columns, the most basic of the basic when it comes to a website design, is not even considered by many designers and template makers.

I went with a simple template design when I did my site and I was basically forced to use the three picture on a page design because it narrowed the text columns more than any other template they offered. I tried explaining to them the value of narrower text columns but it's a few years later and it's still the same old template desÓgns. I know I should switch but at this point it is what it is and at least I can make additions quickly and they are a stable company.
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Old February 25th, 2007, 02:14 AM   #8
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You can get bad sites in Flash and bad sites in HTML. The real key is to figure out the concept of your site first, then use the tool that meets that idea. If a big part of your skillset is motion graphics, then your site should maybe utilize animations and transitions using Flash. Are your customers more traditional business clients? Something more standard and less download intensive may be the way to go. Figure out the message you want, what your clients like/need, and then choose the tools to build it.

Pay attention to download time vs. entertainment value vs. business value.
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Old February 25th, 2007, 04:57 AM   #9
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I think both techniques have a place. Some sites and multimedia applications seem ideally suited to flash, whilst others are better in HTML, and yet more work as hybrids - flash elements in mainly HTML pages. For me, it ultimately depends on the audience, their expections and their connection speeds as well as the application.

We've developed flash applications linking to PHP backends which are effective, particularly for "multimedia" applications, but generally good old HTML works well for more data intensive tasks.

I think one thing flash does excel in is web-based video, particularly HTTP progressive downloads rather than true streaming. The flash player is so prevalent across all platforms, that if you want your video to be accessible to the widest range of viewers, use flash - think youtube etc.

As with most things, it's horses for courses!
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Old February 25th, 2007, 04:34 PM   #10
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The 'flashiest' flash site I found so far is 2advanced.com (if you find a better one, please let me know). But as mentioned above, it really depends on who your target audience is - you have to be careful not to exclude a segment of potential visitors because not everyone is willing to install the latest and greatest (and bandwidth hungriest) apps.
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Old February 25th, 2007, 05:10 PM   #11
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Ask around on flashkit.com. One approach that might be interesting is to take advantage of the alpha channel support in Flash 8 and integrate some animations with video.
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