What is Flash
Flash is a web based multimedia technology by Macromedia. It has been around since the mid-1990’s and has slowly been building in popularity to the point where many bundled programs come with flash players, Macromedia boasts, “Over 516 million Internet users now use Macromedia Flash”.
The benefits of Flash
The strongest benefit of Flash from a viewer’s perspective is the smooth multi-media presentation which can provide a polished and relaxing user experience. Obviously, this impression can positively impact a company’s impression and brand. With Flash you can intertwine animation, video, sound, music, voice-overs, and even connect to a database for personalized interactivity or calculations. Another advantage is that the Flash piece can be designed once for both CD and Web applications allowing the piece to be used in direct mail as well as online. The overwhelming technical advantage is the files are smaller than other multimedia authoring platforms allowing faster download. We have found that a Flash application can double and sometimes triple the number of users viewing information on a web site.
Common Flash Applications
Flash applications are as vast as ones imagination. Here are some common applications that we have developed:
- Splash screen to a web site
- Small “eye candy” animations on a web site
- Product demos and tutorials for web and CD applications
- CD business cards
- Educational tools
- Web site interactivity connected to a database
- Web and CD based games
- Banner ads
- Corporate Presentations
Disadvantages of Flash
Although Flash is a smaller file size then other technologies it can still be rather large even when the Flash piece is streaming (loading only what you need at the moment instead of the whole file). Not all users have Flash and not all users have the same version of Flash. In some cases too much animation and sound can be distracting especially when you have seen it a couple times already and all you want is the directions to the company.
Important considerations when using Flash
- Make sure your users are not all dial up customers.
- Allow non-Flash users to view the same content on the web site.
- The Flash piece should automatically detect if the viewer has Flash and its version.
- Don’t use Flash in critical branding areas like a logo unless a Flash detector is in place.
- Don’t force the user to view a splash screen each time they go to your site.
- Use streaming when possible.
Have a link or automatic code to download the latest version of Flash on your site.