Why is There Such Interest in Flash Website Templates?

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As it gets harder and harder to attract new customers and keep their interest. More and more designers and clients alike turn to Flash website templates in attempt to deal with the incursion of the short attention span generation. With bandwidth no longer an issue and armed with a powerful arsenal of rich media many say Flash is already perched and ready to become the industries weapon of choice.

Even so, those of us who may be closer to finding our inner geek (you know who your are) will be more familiar with the technical issues that surround Flash hence we may appear a little less (pardon the pun) ‘animated’ by all that fancy schmancy. Granted, for every obstacle, and every shortcoming Flash may have had, still has, whatever the case may be, Flash still possess and promises to continue to bring some really amazing virtues to the table. But, there is no justifiable reason that dazzling special effect should ever take the place of good clean HTML content on a website, notwithstanding the majority of Flash antagonist become so, due to the many inaccuracies and misconceptions floating around all over the Net concerning Flash.

Misconception number one – ( The Flash SEO scandal )

The most widely spread misconception is search engine optimization (SEO) or search engine visibility as it pertains to Flash website templates. Sorry to burst your bubble but getting your site indexed on any search engine isn’t easy whatever the underlining technology; search engines are primarily design to index static pages while on the contrary Flash is inherently dynamic. The question then arises. Is the use of Flash website templates then present an insurmountable obstacles or irremediable technical issue to bar proper indexing of these pages. And, if so how is the use of other programming techniques such as dynamically driven database sites and complex URL’s (a common practice also facing similar challenges) become such common place or differ when it all comes down to search engine ranking? The answer to these questions must necessarily come from the search engines themselves and the information they provide concerning dynamic Flash sites and complex URL’s. – See Google Webmaster Help Center answers to Does Google index sites that use Macromedia Flash? – Does Google index dynamic pages?

What are Complex URLs?

Generally complex URLs read as follows

index.php?type=flash&details=gallery

Pages or links used to access this kind of URLs are dynamic, meaning that the content of the page can vary based on the value of the data being passed to the script (script in this case refers to sample.php) creating the page. Notice the parameters (also called a query string) being passed as name=value pairs to this script beginning at the question mark (?) each pair is also separated by an ampersands (&). The script then parses these values to determined which content (or page) it should serve; if on the other hand the topic parameter were to change one could expect to see an entirely different page. As you might imagine these types of URLs could confuse or even momentarily trap the spider by looking as if there were an infinite number of pages within just the one site. Needless to say, me Google crawler no like.

Notwithstanding dynamic pages such as these are simply too useful to avoid. Moreover there are many simple ways to amend the dynamic URLs potential issue, such as through the use of https rewrites and the like… Likewise Flash interactivity is simply too functional to ignore, and any thing else you need to do to make your Flash website template more amicable for the search engine bots to traverse is well worth the extra effort. Why? Well, for starters Flash is capable of utilizing sever-side scripts, it can also be used to assure client-side data validation, make interactive games, embed movies, music and lots of other cool stuff… Listen, it’s perfectly natural to feel a little uncomfortable and even afraid around anything you may not easy get right away; but that’s no reason to call it evil. Case in point Google uses Flash to display users video search results, better still; the popular YouTube website which uses Flash to play movies uploaded by users.

Misconception number two – (it downloads too slow)

There is one other boo-boo we should discuss (i.e. Flash is too slow to download). Why would a Flash website template be any slower to download than a similar sized HTML template? Wouldn’t you agree that any website template could be optimized and well designed no matter the underlying technology? Is it that whole ActionScript vs. Timeline thingamabob theory or is it the trouble of dealing with ActionScript snooty linguistic seclusion within the Flash-editing environment, which, in my experience, can leave you feeling a little peculiar even if you already have some programming knowledge. Or perhaps it’s just some bias because of all the silly Flash intros we’ve all had to endure?

Actually, in most cases the problem actually derives from the misunderstanding or improper use of Preloaders. Preloaders are essentially a usability aid. When properly utilized, the Preloader’s sole purpose is to make a visitor’s browsing experience easier (modem or broadband) by displaying a very simple message or detailing how long the content their looking for on the website will take to appear. The gist of is to halt the progression of the movie and find out the movie file size by writing an ‘if’ conditional statement, to sea if the main timeline’s frames loaded is higher than or equal to the total frames, once the condition statement is met the play head is permitted to advance and the movie can get underway.

Great as that may be, what a Preloader can actually do is give a designer a false sense of security in that they may become insensitive or even feel justified to include redundant overcrowded movie clip instances, or get carried away with silly unjustifiable complexities in their animation. There I said it! In other words adding more and more movie clips intrinsically prolongs the movies load time. Get it? On the other hand, you can easily reduce the load time of your movie by using the root Timeline and training yourself to objectively assess your design.

In sum, as the bandwidth increases and more start to turn away from their TV’s and come stare away into cyberspace, the web will becomes more marketing-driven, more like TV; and they will start to reacquaint themselves with the insatiable urge to search for instant gratification and here without doubt, Flash has presented itself as the industries sassiest new weapon of choice.

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