Sunday, May 04, 2003

Developing User Friendly Flash content

Developing User Friendly Flash content
Summary of Macromedia white paper

Flash is a tool, not a solution. How you use the tool depends on you.

Flash apps may just be called as solutions .

Wrong view:
Use flash as eye candy, cool animations

Right view
Use flash as a display device for cross platform, interactive web apps.

Make it easy for user, not developer

Most cases flash can exist alongside html pages or replace unstable Java applets

The bigger the button, the easier it is to click. Buttons can grow as mouse approcahes them

Don't let animation hinder user experience

Onscreen tet is tough to read. So use fonts like Verdana, Trebuchet, Geneva georgia, sans serif

Make different versions of content available to suit all bandwidths. For low nbandwidths, avoid audio/video/ hi res bitmaps etc

Processes like Alpha blend, scaling drain processor power.

Use preloading to load content as it runs. To cut download time, use vector images obet bmp's. Avoid Complex fonts. Stick to ones which load fast.

Check movie with the built-in Bandwidth profiler ( View menu of Test movie mode). Show progress as % loaded.

When launching flash in pop up window, you can use Java script to control size and location of window, presence/ absence of window elements ( scroll bars/ resizeability etc). Javascript can determine the resolution of the monitor. Use this to tailor pop-up size.

The speed at which flash plays is determined by speed of the processor and size of window. Flash in 640x480 will play faster than 1600x1200.


Use sparingly
Allow user to turn it off
Optimize sound files. They significantly increase size.

Allow user controls to let them stop, rewind or play animations as they desire.

Use cookies
For using cookies in flash, see

Use cookies to
1. ensure same intro is not played again to the same user
2. Find users bandwidth and send appropriate content
3. Find version of flash player and tailor content accordingly

Search Engine Optimisation
1. Create synopsis pages, submit this URl to searchengines
2. the html page which hosts flash should have metatags and a text link to synopsis page

User Testing
Set parameters and test movie with potential users

Thumb rules
The initial screen download should be no more than 40k, including all Macromedia Flash files, HTML, and images

Start telling a story within a second or two of streaming download, by carefully limiting initial text and graphics. ( playback rate is slower than download rate)

Always provide some sort of preloader, an 'opening act', keeping clients occupied while the main show loads.

( Flash skins can be produced for virtually anything, from Winamp to browsers to GUI's)


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