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"Successful" Flash sites
Know of any?
skibum




msg:1566368
 5:56 am on Feb 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

There tend to be some rather heated debates around here WRT the merits of Flash, should it be used, how should the engines deal with it, etc...

We know that clients want or demand it sometimes and for some sites it can be almost a necessity, game/gambling sites, site selling Flash design services, movie trailers, and sometimes as an accent or special feature like a desgn your own home, car, outfit, etc....

With the exception of the types of sites mentioned above, does anybody know of a "successful" site designed completely or primarily with Flash. By successful, I mean one that generates a positive ROI, has better than average (say 1.5%) conversion rates and/or accomplishes other real business objectives as opposed to just stroking the ego of the site owner? A site that really works when it comes to the bottom line.

 

werty




msg:1566398
 7:57 pm on Mar 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

That boeing site is bad.

The company I work for is going to be redoing our site. The president wants the index page to be done in flash, with a 10 second movie displaying like 30 words of text.

All he will allow on this page is the movie(with a skip intro button). I want to avoid this at all costs, but what the prez wants the prez gets.

Personally I hate flash sites. I do think flash is GREAT for demos and presentations.

One good example of this is on the macromedia site for their new contribute software. [macromedia.com...]

I got to take a 5 minute break at work...and got to sit back and listen and watch instead of read. The info I wanted was delivered to me, by my request.

I would love to see more sites adding these extended product overviews. They just need to be easy to navigate and full of important info.

daamsie




msg:1566399
 10:58 pm on Mar 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

The best flash only sites I have seen have been for movies.. I'm afraid I can't remember the name of the one that I liked most.. but this one will have to do : www.donniedarko.com.

Sites like this have far less need of being properly indexed and there is much more benefit in giving the audience a taste of what the film is to be about.

BTW, someone mentioned in a post that doing a navigation in Flash would hamper indexability - My understanding is that Google follows those links and will be able to index the other pages (provided the content is html). I guess you lose the benefit of keywords in link text, but your site would still be indexed at least.

feeder




msg:1566400
 12:08 am on Mar 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

The web is fundamentally a means of communication. Any professional web designer starts with the question: what do I want to communicate and how do I do this effectively?

Flash has it's uses, but in the end, it's just another tool for communication. My main beef with Flash is that it's almost always poorly applied. If the message can be communicated in HTML, then use HTML. It fits better with web infrastructure.

If the message isn't worthwhile in HTML, then animating it will not make it any more worthwhile. The medium in not the message.

Use wisely.


olwen




msg:1566401
 11:46 pm on Mar 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

One I like in flash is "Lord of the Rings".
[lordoftherings.net...]

But why did my ISP have to do their site for their business services in flash?
[ihug.co.nz...]

[edited by: korkus2000 at 2:35 am (utc) on Mar. 3, 2003]
[edit reason] spliced thread by request [/edit]

daamsie




msg:1566402
 2:40 am on Mar 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

I just remembered: www.requiemforadream.com

feeder




msg:1566403
 2:59 am on Mar 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

www.requiemforadream.com

A complete waste of space. What possible use is that intro? To make us think the designer is "clever"?

I immediately thought a) this site is wasting my time making me sit through some cheesy animation and b) "oh-oh...some get rich quick scheme".

Was that what it was supposed to communicate? I didn't wait for it to finish.

KevinC




msg:1566404
 3:00 am on Mar 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

"I just remembered: www.requiemforadream.com"

I agree - if anyone has actually seen this movie they know that the web site truly captures the feel and mood of the movie - better then any html version could.

feeder




msg:1566405
 3:21 am on Mar 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

That's the point - I am not aware this is a movie, so the site means nothing to me. I *might* have learned about the movie had I not been forced to wait. So 0/10 for communication.

For those who have seen the movie - what possible utility is the site providing? Those "in the know" are no longer potential ticket buyers.

If I want to "get the feel", I'll go see the movie itself, not look at some animations on a website.

Am I missing something?

daamsie




msg:1566406
 6:01 am on Mar 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

Feeder, what chances are there really of anyone going to see a movie because they found 'movie about teenagers' in google? Not the target for a film website I think. Although I haven't seen the film yet, seeing the website (which I reached through webbyawards.com), has tempted me and I will eventually see the film. That website is like a preview at the cinemas, but better, because it draws you into the story already! And the fact that they were nominated for a webbyaward, means that their site has been a success (the original post). I'm sure they have had people watch the movie because of that success.

BTW.. just because you are clearly not the movie's usual audience, doesn't mean it isn't achieving what it set out to achieve in it's target audience.

feeder




msg:1566407
 6:23 am on Mar 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

Feeder, what chances are there really of anyone going to see a movie because they found 'movie about teenagers' in google?

Zero.

Search marketing works for things already known. I'm not talking about SEM though, I'm talking about clarity of the message and being forced to wait for a message that I have no idea of knowing in advance if it is relevant to me or not.

I'm forced to wait, so I click away.

seeing the website (which I reached through webbyawards.com), has tempted me and I will eventually see the film.

While any publicity is usually good publicity, a marketing strategy that aims at winning a webby award so that some designer might possibly consider seeing it is not a cost effective marketing strategy when compared with other avenues. It's a bonus.

That website is like a preview at the cinemas, but better, because it draws you into the story already!

Didn't for me. I didn't even know it was a movie. It would have been better if they showed some of the movie, a few reviews, etc. Then, I could have made an informed choice.

Why do you think they advertise movies by showing movie trailers?

How would I have found the site otherwise? I would have seen an advertisment offline (possibly online, but unlikely), then I would have jumped on Google to look up a few reviews or previews so I could make a more informed decision on wether to see the movie or not.

Or I would have read about it in a forum (note the word "read"), clicked on the link, and become informed. I wasn't, because I couldn't be bothered waiting for something that failed to say anything within ten seconds.

Something that fails to say anything on the web within ten seconds is something that fails to understand the medium. Or never had anything worth saying in the first place.

And the fact that they were nominated for a webbyaward, means that their site has been a success (the original post).

Or they could have just won an industry award.

A site can win industry awards and still be a marketing disaster. In fact, many sites that win design industry awards are marketing disasters. Look at F**ked Company.com - it's littered with design award winners.


BTW.. just because you are clearly not the movie's usual audience, doesn't mean it isn't achieving what it set out to achieve in it's target audience.

How would one measure that? Webby awards? ;)

I'm not saying they should'nt have used Flash. I'm saying that the site has little to say except "look at me!". It fails to communicate anything beyond it's own aesthetic, which isn't particularly compelling.

It would like to be art. But it isn't.

mat_bastian




msg:1566408
 8:43 am on Mar 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

the thing is, you can't blame Flash for the missing message from the designers. It's just a vehical. A file format who's veiwability approaches 98% of all web users.

feeder




msg:1566409
 9:14 am on Mar 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

the thing is, you can't blame Flash for the missing message from the designers

I don't blame Flash. I am platform agnostic. As I said in my earlier post "My main beef with Flash is that it's almost always poorly applied".

The web has a speed limit, that is the attention span of the viewer. You need to communicate something compelling within a few seconds or they will click away. Given the load time of Flash, flash designers would do well to make a compelling first impression as quickly as possible.

Those that do not make a compelling first impression as quickly as possible cannot hope to communicate effectively in this medium.

Natuarally, the same applies to HTML :)

fathom




msg:1566410
 9:41 am on Mar 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

Agree feeder --

1. when text will do - use text

2. when HTML will do - use HTML

3. when imagery/graphics will do - use imagery/graphics

4. when an applet helps the above - sure use it, but don't discount 1 - 3, they each have merits.

GlynMusica




msg:1566411
 10:02 am on Mar 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

One of the things I find flash designers forget is the ruleset that traditional HTML ingrains in the mind of the user. IE the user clicks a link and something happens immediately.

For example the URL posted earlier:
http*//www.clydesonline.com/retail2002/flash.htm

When you click on one of the menu items right in the middle in a small font it says "retrieving data". Now I am on a fairly quick connection and I had to wait a few seconds to see all the updated information. Scale that down to a 56K modem and the user experience will be to click and then they will wait.

With Flash it is very easy to create a seamless, smooth site but the problem is that because the user expects to get a reaction for their click - traditional HTML (usually a page refresh or some content updating on the page) - when they hit a button in Flash I think it's really important to be explicit about what is happening. Otherwise the user thinks nothing is happening and that the site is broken.

The nature of this industry lends itself to terminology. Where a novice might say "nice animiation" an expert user might say "high impact vector based website". Therefore ask whether your user is going to understand "retrieving data" or whether "finding fie, please wait" is more appropriate. It might be at odds with the space your designer has alloted for the words, but have them redesign the space, it's their job.

In the long run I think it's better that way.

daamsie




msg:1566412
 10:49 am on Mar 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

It fails to communicate anything beyond it's own aesthetic, which isn't particularly compelling.

It would like to be art. But it isn't.

I didn't realize this was a discussion on 'what is art', but I certainly think that website is. It manages to toy with your feelings as you are going through it and uses its medium cleverly to help bring its point across. It is very aesthetic and highly compelling, so I don't really understand that part of your comment, apart from maybe that tastes differ ..

You ask what a movie trailer is for? Movie trailers are designed for their medium and work for their medium.. they have a very limited time to give someone a taste of a movie.. quite often they will give you a website address at the end as a means to explore the film further. Therefore, visitors to that site already are a captive audience.. they will usually be willing to spend a little longer on the site.. and are only limited by their own patience.

Finally, the fact that the website wasn't palatable to you, probably means that the film won't be either.. and that is no surprise.. arthouse films rarely are served on a platter to their audience and often aim to challenge the very methods of storytelling, rather than the cliched and rehashed narrative of American hollywood blockbusters.
Bringing it back to 'art' - it is quite simply like the difference between abstract art and figurative art. One portrays things clearly and obviously, the other challenges the way you see things and helps develop appreciation of aesthetics.

The world is not filled with impatient people.

fathom




msg:1566413
 11:10 am on Mar 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

I didn't realize this was a discussion on 'what is art'...

I guess we really need to determine how to define "Successful" Flash sites.

I had originally started posting in the thread because Flash by itself doesn't make a site successful, the appeal of "content" to the specific market does.

Macromedia itself designs in html and adds interesting applets to the page... this says alot.

Dante_Maure




msg:1566414
 1:45 pm on Mar 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

> I guess we really need to determine how to define "Successful" Flash sites.

For the purposes of this thread it was defined in the very first post.

By successful, I mean one that generates a positive ROI, has better than average (say 1.5%) conversion rates and/or accomplishes other real business objectives as opposed to just stroking the ego of the site owner? A site that really works when it comes to the bottom line.

If we stay on topic (it happens on occasion... really... I mean it...) we can avoid the tedious, inevitable, and hopelessly unproductive Flash sucks/rocks debate. ;)

In the right niche, under the right direction, with the right execution, Flash sites can be phenomenally effective.

A few years ago I consulted for months on a generic prospecting website for the Network Marketing industry which produced an absolutely outstanding conversion ratio.

This is an industry where get rich quick rhetoric is the rule, and visitor skepticism is off the chart.

By using proven tactics borrowed from television advertising and ruthless sales psychology, this flash presentation unfailingly pulled an average conversion ratio of 11% in an arena where 1% is standard, and 3% is considered a "success".

It hit emotional triggers and "hot buttons" with audio and a slide show that plain text and static graphics couldn't come close to touching.

Even with that first hand experience under my belt, I have not worked on a single project since then which I felt was an appropriate vehicle for a flash enhanced presentation. I wholeheartedly agree with much of the sentiments expressed earlier in this thread... as with any tool, flash has it's proper time and place, something rarely understood in practice.

Now for the first time in over 2 years I will be playing my Flash card with a project. It is once again a site where emotional impact is paramount and the combination of audio and imagery will strike just the chords I'm looking for more effectively than any other medium.

Words of wisdom for those interested in using Flash for commercial purposes...

Don't leave the design of your flash presentation to a website or graphic designer.

Hire a video producer from the TV industry with experience in direct response advertising to script your "spot" and then provide ongoing consultation on it's execution to be sure that things like the pacing are on point.

The architecture and design of an effective flash presentation has far more in common with TV advertising creative than it does web design.

Anyone that can code the language can slap together a .swf file, but to take full advantage of the medium you need folks with a firm grasp on both visual advertising creative, and film production.

Your average web designer is as unqualified to produce a profitable flash presentation as a print advertising designer would be in producing a cable TV infomercial.

Certainly a basic understanding of sales psychology is useful, but audio and animation add dynamics which demand an entirely different skill set if the medium's potential is going to be fully tapped.

korkus2000




msg:1566415
 1:58 pm on Mar 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

Designers believe that great looking sites are the path to success. There is nothing wrong with this assumption. Sites that are visually appealing do perform better than sites that are ugly. I have seen redesigns out perform the original ugly design almost overnight.

Marketers want sites that are basic in design and are built around copy. Not to say they don't want a slick design, they just want content first and design second. They believe that the web is about copy and people want to see copy over multimedia. This is also not a wrong assumption. We could list many sites that are making a bundle because of their copy.

So what we need is the middle ground. Is Flash a good medium for copy? If it is I have not seen it pulled off yet. Is Flash a good medium for aesthetic enhancements to keep the site visually interesting? Most definitely. So why not use Flash as a tool to enhance the design of a basic copy driven site? Nobody will be able to convince me that WOW factor does not play a role in Internet branding. As long as you are not trading load time or usability (SE bots included), WOW factor will help in both return users and viral marketing.

Designers need to work towards more usable designs. Keeping text in HTML format allow users to change font size to help them pick the right size to read. The can also copy and paste information. There are so many advantages to keeping text content html. Now sections of sites like some have mentioned can be completely Flash to fulfill requirements.

Marketers need to look at how design will enhance user experience and ROI. Nicely designed sites do perform well if they are usable and leverage HTML where Flash falls down. Most marketers have been scared away from Flash because of "All Flash Sites". Flash can be embedded and be smaller in file size than a jpg or gif. That was the original intention of Flash. You can also make sure that people who don't have Flash can have a seemless experience.

Sales is about giving the impression of stability and industry know how. A site that looks visually appealing makes a statement that your site is intentional and not an after thought. The cheaper and basic a site looks the less likely people will feel confident with your recommendation. Pretty sites build consumer confidence, as long as they are not clunky, slow, and broken.

lisaevenson




msg:1566416
 4:29 pm on Mar 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

We build very successful web sites designs and solely use Flash. Our clients are established firms with strong customers already and are not interested in finding them solely, if at all, on search engines. Their clients never find them from search engines. You need to look at the business' customer demographics before you strategize the best marketing plan. And, in any case, you should never use only one marketing device to promote your business. No successful business can. If you only use search engines to bring in customers, I truly doubt your business is very large or will ever grow much in the future.

Just my thoughts.

Lisa

korkus2000




msg:1566417
 4:36 pm on Mar 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

Their clients never find them from search engines.

Is that because of the technology being used? I find that an odd statement unless the sites don't rank. If you were given the oppertunity to air a free commercial on a national station would you turn it down? Companies should use more than one form of marketing device, but to turn away free brand exposure is a little arrogent by those businesses IMHO.

Even regional business will benefit from SEM. I am surprised that you feel like they can't be helped by search engines. This weekend alone I found small businesses in my area and spent money at their store because of their site. If nothing else a business should come up for a search of their name.

ryanmpsb




msg:1566418
 4:58 pm on Mar 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think this stanford research report from October 02, about what triggers a site as credible in the mind of a user, add's an interesting dynamic to the whole flash/ROI discussion.

Aesthetics play a very big part!
http*//www.consumerwebwatch.org/news/report3_credibilityresearch/stanfordPTL_TOC.htm

*sigh* 'tis true, subjective preference rules the day

[edited by: ryanmpsb at 6:11 pm (utc) on Mar. 3, 2003]

pjamescowie




msg:1566419
 5:37 pm on Mar 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

What about [thebanmappingproject.com...]

This Egyptological site - fascinating even to the unitiated.... - provides a Flash Atlas of the entire Valley of the Kings and its royal tombs. Check it out! To buy the equivalent paper publication would set you back hundreds....

Proves that Flash is a successful and inexpensive means of presenting some - especially graphic - content.....

Also that "success" shouldn't always be measured in terms of making money.... Time we got back to the altruistic provision of knowledge for the sheer love of it, a la the spirit of the Internet in the mid-1990's.

feeder




msg:1566420
 8:58 pm on Mar 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

This Egyptological site - fascinating even to the unitiated.... - provides a Flash Atlas of the entire Valley of the Kings and its royal tombs

An excellent application of Flash. Whoever designed that understands their audience and the medium.

arthouse films rarely are served on a platter to their audience and often aim to challenge the very methods of storytelling, rather than the cliched and rehashed narrative of American hollywood blockbusters

daamsie, I have a B.A. in Film/English Literature. I watch a *lot* of films, and most of them would be considered arthouse. I've even crewed on some!

The mediums are different. They have unique demands and expectations. Cinemas have a captive audience who bear passive witness, and expect immediate visual and aural satisfaction.

People on the web have a back button and are working interactively. You have to gain permission to make them sit through something. Many Flash sites assume they have that permission when they do not. The Egyptological site above is a fine example of first gaining permission from the audience.

Apart from anything else, your average web designer is not Jean Pierre Jeunet ;)

WindSun




msg:1566421
 9:22 pm on Mar 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

The problem is not flash, it is using it inapproprately - or in some cases just to make the site look "neat" to the client.
Every day I hit sites that have this big flash thing up front with nothing but an animated logo or something. Now why in hell would I want to wait 15 seconds (on DSL) to see a dancing logo?

On the other hand, the Egyptian site shows excellent use of flash.

lisaevenson




msg:1566422
 12:50 am on Mar 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

korkus:

some people dont have the time to sit on the internet and scour the search engines. many people discover companies by word of mouth, paper marketing, professional associations, etc. do you think people discover IBM by search engines? I should hope not. If your working for competent businesses, you design sites for the look and not the mere search engine rankings. seo is for the home grown businesses. sorry if you feel thats arrogant - its simply a fact.

korkus2000




msg:1566423
 1:30 am on Mar 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

many people discover companies by word of mouth, paper marketing, professional associations, etc. do you think people discover IBM by search engines? I should hope not.

People don't discover IBM from a search engine. They discover new products and services during research. IBM does use SE for enhancing their business.

If your working for competent businesses, you design sites for the look and not the mere search engine rankings.

Tell that to the Fortune 500 companies who have contracted me to do web graphic design. You don't design a site for mere SE rankings, but it should be a requirement. Designers that believe sites should be no more than an online brochure are quickly going extinct. I am picking up contracts from many businesses tired of "all Flash sites" designers pushed on them. Reevaluating "brochure" Flash sites and making them perform is starting to be a booming business.

Sites must be more than online print collateral. I use Flash for designs that warrant it. Most sites unfortunately do not.

seo is for the home grown businesses. sorry if you feel thats arrogant - its simply a fact.

I could list hundreds of worldwide brands that totally disagree with that. What businesses are you talking about? I am talking about businesses with over 1,000 employees. I also know people here that work with goverment agencies to get traffic because of SEs. Not small ones either.

I don't find your views arrogent. I used to think the same thing. When I started working for the bells a couple of years ago my mind changed. Since then the more contracts I got the more this was an issue.

daamsie




msg:1566424
 1:51 am on Mar 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

Apart from anything else, your average web designer is not Jean Pierre Jeunet ;)

True, but Alex Proyas project mysteryclock.com is completely flash based (warning: i'm not recommending this neccessarily - it takes over your screen completely and takes quite a while to load)

Feeder, I am sorry if I assumed you weren't an arthouse buff (surprised that you haven't even heard of requiem for a dream then though), but glad to hear that you are as that is where real filmmaking is at! I work in the tv industry as an editor, so consider myself to have a little understanding of the entertainment industry. I do web sites on the side. I completely agree that there is a time and a place for flash - my own site doesn't use any at all for fear of excluding the small minority that doesn't have it installed. I think I actually agree with most people in this thread that flash has a time and a place - I just considered that the requiemforadream site was a site that used flash well and had considered its audience, guess we disagree :)

Dante_Maure, I'm afraid I have no statistics on ROI for that site though, but do wonder whether that is the only measure of a site's success? For me the web is a communication platform first, marketing outlet second. I guess I probably strayed from your original outset - my apologies.

feeder




msg:1566425
 3:55 am on Mar 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

Feeder, I am sorry if I assumed you weren't an arthouse buff (surprised that you haven't even heard of requiem for a dream then though)

Guess I'm just going to have to rent it now. Perhaps that site served it's purpose after all ;)

I think I actually agree with most people in this thread that flash has a time and a place - I just considered that the requiemforadream site was a site that used flash well and had considered its audience, guess we disagree

:) - I think we agree that Flash has a time and a place.

paranoidpenguin




msg:1566426
 4:26 am on Mar 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

Take a look at [smittyink.com...] and tell me what you think.

jleland




msg:1566427
 6:00 am on Mar 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

Dante_Maure, I really appreciated your comments.

Particularly:
Your average web designer is as unqualified to produce a profitable flash presentation as a print advertising designer would be in producing a cable TV infomercial.

Clearly, the web is neither a "one size fits all" medium, nor a one producer can do it all medium.

I've called the art "communication design" because we have many kinds of media forms (HTML, JavaScript, DHTML, Flash, video etc.) to choose from, and thus we as designers have to be intelligent and skilled about choosing the right "strokes" for the right "folks."

The same thing is true for finding the right marketing approach for the right clients. For some, especially affiliate marketers, SEM is crucial; while for others (for example, I have clients whose sites are really online brochures that support their word of mouth generated clientele and don't need or really know how to use "strangers" from SEM) who don't need or want it.

Thus, there is no single right answer for either Flash nor SEM.

It all depends on your skills, your audience and your objectives.

Just my 2 cents,
J

nonprof webguy




msg:1566428
 5:52 pm on Mar 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

A file format who's veiwability (sic) approaches 98% of all web users.

That 98% represents the percentage of browsers that have Flash installed. The percentage of web users who have high-speed connections and don't need to wait 15 seconds to two minutes for a .swf to download -- making flash practically unviewable -- is certainly far less than 98%.

Personally, I feel that a wait of more than two seconds is annoying; even on a T1 a lot of Flash candy ain't worth it to me.

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