When Flash was first introduced by FutureWave Inc. in August
1996, it was known as "FutureSplash Animator." Macromedia
acquired FutureWave in December and renamed the application to
"Flash." What made FutureSplash unique was the fact that
FutureSplash's images were created in "vector format."
As you may know, most images you see on the Web (such as the
logo that appears on http://www.worlddesignservices.com/), are
drawn by thousands, sometimes even millions, of colored square
dots known as "pixels." Any image that displays shapes using
pixels (called a "raster image") can have a significantly large
file size since the color and location of each dot must be
recorded inside the image file.
The vector graphic, on the other hand, is an image type that
uses mathematical equations to define lines and shapes. For
example, a drawing of a circle uses only a single curved line,
rather than relying on hundreds (or even thousands) of pixels to
create an image. This not only results in a drastic decrease in
file size, but also an increase in image quality. Vector
graphics can be scaled up or down and never lose their sharp
lines, whereas raster images end up looking "chunky." For a
side-by-side comparison of vector and raster images, have a look
at the following page:
Because Flash relies mostly on vector graphics to display text
and images, it delivers excellent image quality and
exceptionally small file sizes. On the Internet, where no two
users are ever connected at exactly the same speed at the same
time, this reduced download is always appreciated.
In the unlikely event that you've never seen a Flash animation
before, have a look at the banner on the top of
http://www.internetcashplanet.com/. Not only does it look great,
but it MOVES; Flash, when created properly, will deliver any
message you want and keep your audience interested.
Gone are the days of slow downloads and endless reading! As
you've seen from the previous comparisons, Flash banners deliver
sharp, great-looking graphics which load quickly and get your
message to your viewer fast. Flash banners also get read more
often than your basic static HTML page because they have the
ability to move smoothly, whereas traditional animated web
graphics are clunky at best. Everybody knows the 30-second rule,
which dictates that you MUST make an impression on your viewer
within 30 seconds of them hitting your site if you want them to
respond to your offers. Since this rule is ALWAYS in effect, a
Flash banner's ability to transmit a message quickly, smoothly,
and effectively is always worth the investment.
The application of Flash reaches far beyond the simple animated
banner. Worldprofit's new "Ultimate Home Business Promo," when
it was first released, generated so many responses, they were
difficult for us to keep up with! Once you have a look at
http://www.worldprofit.com/uhbp/, you'll probably understand
why. Flash, when created properly, not only has the power to
captivate your site viewers, it also has the power to strike
emotional chords and make your viewers feel whatever you want
them to: excitement, hope, enthusiasm.
Up until last year, Flash banners could only be made using the
"Macromedia Flash" utility. For many, it was a difficult program
to master, and creating even the simplest of banners could be a
week-long project. However, the recent introduction of
third-party applications such as Swish
(http://www.swishzone.com) and SwFX (http://www.wildform.com/)
have made it much easier to create animated banners that use the
same file format as Flash.
To the experienced Flash designer, these powerful tools have
been both a blessing and a curse. On the upside, they
drastically reduce the time it takes to create Flash pieces. On
the downside, the low price of these applications makes them
available to the "Average Joe," and as a result, everybody and
their dog is beginning to call themselves "Flash Designers."
Their pieces, created without the necessary technical know-how
of what it takes to make a Flash piece accessible to
lower-bandwidth viewers, are beginning to give Flash a bad
reputation as being bloated and boring.
To you, the prospective consumer, this overabundance of
so-called "Flash Designers" presents an element of confusion.
Should you get the kid down the block to design your Flash site
for $300? Probably not. If you're paying a "design firm" in
another city $10,000 for a site, are you getting the best Flash
site money can buy?
Unfortunately, my friends, the answer is no.
We were recently contacted by a man who was unhappy with the
state of his site; after paying over $10,000 to a "Flash Design
Firm," he had one look at what he got for his money and was
We were, too.
His site, at http://www.faustco.com/, breaks just about every
rule there is. There are too many colors, too many fonts, and,
as you know, Flash is intended to display images in "vector"
format. Whoever designed Mr. Faust's site clearly had no
understanding of this fact, and imported as many raster images
as they could. This resulted in a site that not only has the
"chunky" appearance mentioned earlier, but also presents
incredibly long download times to viewers trying to visit the
site with a standard 56k (or lower) connection. While Mr.
Faust's business has been around for a long time, no doubt
because they've been producing excellent, dependable products
since the day they began business, the poor quality of his
site's design will no doubt harm the reputation of his company.
FLASH - WHY DO YOU WANT IT?
Like I said before, folks: Flash, "when created properly," can
be the best thing that ever happened to your site. Having
personally experienced the benefits of effective Flash design, I
can honestly say that there is NO medium out there that gets
people going to your site and subscribing to your newsletter
list better than a well-done Flash piece. However, when looking
for a Flash designer, beware: if a "company" doesn't have a
Flash portfolio that impresses you in the least, don't hesitate
to delete their e-mail and forget they existed, no matter how
low their prices may be.
If you're looking for a Flash designer, I'm naturally going to
recommend you contact us now. Not only are we in our seventh
year of putting people's businesses online, and not only have we
been applying proven marketing concepts time and time again,
helping thousands of people maximize responses to their offers
(regardless of the type of business they run), we've also got
the technical know-how of exactly what it takes to make a Flash
piece that WORKS. When you order from us, you won't just be
getting a site that LOOKS pretty and applies our years of
marketing experience, you'll be getting one that loads quickly
and gets your point across effectively.
And hey, if you've received a quote from another company and
aren't sure if you'll be getting your money's worth, send the
quote to me. I'm not offering to beat their price, I'm offering
something much more valuable: to relieve any confusion you might
be experiencing and help you to become more informed of what
good Flash design is. I'm standing by to help you now!
About the author:
Jody Hatton is a senior member of the Worldprofit Design Team
and specializes in Flash design. Recent Worldprofit designed
Flash sites include: http://www.worldprofit.com/uhbp/