In the dim and distant past when the web was a pioneer's medium rather than just a marketing and communications tool, no website was complete without little animated.GIF figures animating the otherwise static page and highlighting static items of interest in an amusing way.
In the dim and distant past when the web was a nerd's plaything rather than an advanced marketing and communications tool, no website was complete without bandwidth burning animated.GIF figures distracting attention from the site content, slowing download times and trivializing the site's message. Amusing initially but subsequently just a pest.
Two sides of the same coin - but an issue that needs to be addressed when planning your new site.
Certainly the seeming urge on the part of either webmaster or client to draw attention away from the website's true payload - the content - seems misplaced when you allow for the lack of patience the average surfer is known to possess.
Why fritter an already limited attention span?
For me, the end of the gratuitous use of the animated cliché on web pages was a blessing, regardless of whatever format it was provided in, Flash, gif or Java.
The websites of Nokia or Motorola phones - where 360 degree views of products doubtless enhance the ability to sell mobile phones to a design-aware public.
Although I have to admit I personally tend to browse the specifications, glance at the images, go to the shop to look at a specific phone and then wind up walking away with something totally different.
The Website for the Polyphonic Spree, The Quest for the rest. was built in order to promote their new album.
This remarkable on-line game is a work of art! I really enjoyed it....but I have to say that I cannot remember the name of the album it was built to promote and nor did I observe a link to let me buy the album had I wanted to.
So I played the game....and clicked away.
Altoids - http://www.altoids.com - has a lively, rich in animation site that look half a lifetime to download even on my broadband connection.
It's all great fun, but in terms of return on investment, other than brand awareness its function is a mystery to me.
Clearly you can see where I stand in this debate - I am a fan of "say it then shut up".
And whilst I want to say whatever it is both clearly and in a memorable fashion, the temptation to let technique stand in the way of results should be resisted.
In all website design the "Four L's" apply - Loadable, Legible, Logical and Liveable and generally with the simple physics of the web still limited by bandwidth, heavy use of Flash or other graphics media present problems.
Is there a future for the Flash site?
Flash has been taking the internet by storm for at least the past ten years - Flash 1 shipped in 1996 - and whilst it has carved a not insignificant niche for itself - yet the fact remains that the web is still an HTML phenomenon, as a brief flick around random pages will demonstrate.
It is also interesting to note that the major "niche" for Flash appears to be the adverting banners that blink, flash and flicker in order to draw attention away from site content and onto themselves.
Clearly if this storm plans on taking anything it will have to get the lead out.
Web design offers countless temptations of the "I want to use this technique" variety, from the sub-basic scrolling marquee beloved of D.I.Y. website builders to entire sites in Flash complete with online games and the ability to upload images from your Bluetooth mobile.
Ask yourself these key questions at the planning stage : -
1.Will it sell your product or just stress-test your viewer's patience?
2.If Joe Public loves the site for its artistic or entertainment qualities, will this lead them to buy the product?
3.Would your increased development costs be better spent on improved marketing of a less ambitious project?
In short - don't be dazzled by the chromium, think of how you plan on driving the thing first.