Flash 101 – Absolutely everything you need to know, to be up there with the best

There are books, there are courses, there are crazy people claiming “experience” will help you.

Unnecessary.

Just follow these 10 simple steps and you will be producing content indistinguishable from the world’s best.

Like all work to a deadline, Flash is a compromise: you need to decide what is important, and what isn’t. Then, devote your work time accoringly:

  1. An opening “splash” animation is the cornerstone of any Flash success – but attention-to-detail is vital: it should be long, it should take longer still to load, it must not actually contribute anything, and it must not be skippable.
  2. A good “Loading” progress indicator is also critical. You should put almost as much work into that as the splash anim. If these are good enough, people will often just buy everything your client makes without waiting to see the site. Whatever time you left over can go into any actual site development which may be needed.
  3. Music improves any site. While using a long track can add extra download time, often a short, looping track, at a low sample rate will stick in a users’ mind much longer (in some cases permanently). Novice Flash developers may give the user an option to turn this music off – but this only gives them the chance to unimprove your site. Do not do it.
  4. Every UI element should have an annoying sound effect. I can’t believe people still forget these! Make them long and loud and numerous.
  5. Tooltips, OTOH, only clutter and detract and really add nothing. If they were any good, the geniuses who make Flash would have implemented them natively. Always do the annoying FX first and so-called “functional” things like tooltips only if you have time left.
  6. Even more important is to have mouseovers and sound effects on parts of your page that don’t even do anything. Obviously, the more the better. Perhaps even don’t finish some of the more boring deeper pages to add critical stuff like this at the front.
  7. The scroll wheel. This is a gimmick, either don’t implement it or do as poorly as you are capable.
  8. It is critical that your whole site be implemented in the one flash file, so that counterproductive things like bookmarking, searching and being able to go “back” to the thing you were just looking at can be effectively blocked.
  9. Once your masterpiece is completed, the editable “.fla” file is no longer necessary. Definitely don’t give it to the client, but it’s well worth actually losing it yourself so that when the time comes to update the site, you can build a whole new one with everything you’ve learned here and elsewhere.
  10. Style is obviously better than substance, but how much more complete to have neither!

There, that’s it. Keep these in mind and you practically cannot fail. Perhaps there will still be an occasion where you are not sure which way to jump, all we advise you to do is think of the golden rule:

All that glitters is gold. Pure gold, baby!

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