Adobe Flash has been habitually misused by design-centric website developers — so much so that a few of us at FutureNow tend to wince when it’s even mentioned in passing.
It’s not that we don’t like Flash. When used purposefully, Flash has the potential to dramatize a product or service’s benefits in ways that static pictures and text can’t quite match.
The micro-site for the Sigma DP-1 camera (choose language preference to start) is a good example of Flash done right.
Notice how the choreographed presentation of text and pictures dramatizes the benefit of having a DSLR image sensor in a compact camera body. And notice how the site’s designers capture your attention from the beginning of the presentation and lead you to a place where you can then interact with the camera’s features.
Sigma’s Flash presentation creates persuasive momentum, then leverages it by bringing viewers to an interactive website where they can drill down into specifics.
For an example of Flash used within a website — rather than as an introduction to a website — I recommend taking a look at this page from the Leo Diamond website. No, it’s not the prettiest site out there, but the Flash tools provide visitors with a better feel for diamond carat size and color than either text or static pictures could. And it works.
Flash can be an effective tool when used intelligently and sparingly. But before you decide on using it, ask yourself the following questions:
1. What will this allow me to convey that text and static images wouldn’t?
2. Am I actually conveying benefits or just adding sparkle and glitz?
3. Is there a way to make this more interactive and not just a push-presentation?
4. If I can’t make it interactive, what can I do to hook the viewer right from the start, so they don’t skip the presentation? (You ARE going to provide a “skip” option, right?)
5. What pathways am I providing to the flash viewer when they are done with the interactive tool or presentation?
6. Are there clear links and pathways forward that will lead to conversion?
7. Will the static content allow visitors to drill down into the topics most important to them?
8. Does it address the visitor’s true concerns?
9. Will you capitalize on the persuasive momentum from the Flash presentation?
10. Do your calls to action continue to build on that momentum?
If you can answer those questions, it might be smart to use Flash sparingly.
About the Author: Jeff Sexton is a Persuasion Architect, and on June 2nd, he’ll be taking the day off from helping clients fuse style and substance to teach FutureNow’s Persuasive Online Copywriting seminar in Manhattan.