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Thread: Group Discussion on Design Practices - All Opinions

  1. #1
    Massah o de obitwang narcisis's Avatar
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    resolved

    I just wanted to have a conversation on different ways we implement our web page designs, and what would call for a certain kind of design and so forth.

    Sooo...

    First order of business, xHTML and Flash, a complete flash website or just plain HTML? A mix of the two? Or how about a mixture frames/html/flash as a hybrid? Calling HTML plain is not really accurate though, I've seen professional html site layouts that even rival 2advanced. What would call for a full flash website or just HTML? Just.. opinion? Or would it depend on the nature of the website? I've found flash to be mainly for "flash" and appeal, for attention grabbing, mainly to attract customers or to just look pretty damn cool among peers. What decision would have to be made to say, "yes, I'll use flash as my full webpage design" or "no, flash isn't needed" on say.. a professional web site? A homepage? A client page on undergarments?

    Secondly, what resolution to develop for? 800x600 is still said to be the standard for most users, but 1024x768 is quickly making its stamp, not to mention 1280x1024 is quickly making its impression as well. Some people just scale thier flash accordingly to browser size but things can become ugly doing that (who hasn't learned that the hard way). Others might strictly develop for 1024x768 - cutting out the 800x600 crowd. What todo what todo - Comments?

    Thirdly - in everyones opinion how big is too big? Think a possible client will wait the measly minute to wait for your intense-flashed-up-with-ultra-cool-lens-flare-effects page to load up? Most possible clients don't realize the concerns with bandwidth and connection speeds - do we explain to them its not our fault that they're still on a 14.4kbps connection? Or do we conform and reduce our creativity with our design? How much is too much?

    And last - what do you as a individual perfer in design?

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    1) I read a statistic once (so it must be true) that a page must capture a viewers attention in 7 seconds or less... else its browser storage fodder. The only time I can personally say I have waited longer is when I was going to a site to be impressed by the designer (such as crazyraven, 2advanced, markhillman) and had already be told in advance that it was really cool and worth the download wait.

    The only time I have ever designed completely in flash, was when I was looking for a job with a graphic house and wanted to impress fellow designers with my skills. Now that I look back at that site (which is no longer online, thank god!) I realize that it was a really horrible idea. I still use flash in my sites to improve interactivity, but I give em' HTML for content.

    2) I once helped a friend of mine provide at home technical support for a non-profit org. The scariest thing I have ever seen was a multi-millionaire trying operate a computer on a 640x480 monitor. And its not just the freaks either. A lot of people set their res low because they have bad eyesite and set the monitor as far back as possible.

    3) I think I answered that with (1)

  3. #3
    Massah o de obitwang narcisis's Avatar
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    Post

    Key word here is "group" discussion
    Noone else wants to add any comments??

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    general rule bender Gloomycus's Avatar
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    I use flash for the most part because I am weak in other programming areas. I suppose I'm cheating.

  5. #5
    Post Mo' Bills chook's Avatar
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    1 - Up until recently I was of the thought that 100% flash was the way to go and was going to be the way to go, full stop. But when a client came to me and asked for site in HTML, I embraced it. i think that it depends on the target audience what you develop the site in. You'd be surprised how many people still actually don't have a flash player, and are still on a 56k modem.
    (I'm currently living in Austrlia and there's alot of folks still on modems because the broadband connection down here is erratic.)
    But I think a healhy mix of both is proving to be successful.

    2 - Still develop for 800x600. Alot of people don't even realize they change the resoution of their screens.
    We had this one client that kept complaining about evrything being too big on his screen and not being able to view everything even though it made it past QA, so we went to his office and lo and behold he had his screen set at 640x480 (sound familiar culhog!!!)

    3 - How big is too big??? Well if your target audence is in the cities and are mostly on a T1 connection, then anything that loads in and around 1 minute is alright. Anything over 1 minute people get ancy and move on.
    On the other hand, if your target audience are still on modems, maybe coming up with an HTML option to the site might be the way to go.


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    Personally i do html javascript and flash ( though I would point out that I use swish to make my swf's ) The truth is even though html looks clean and smart it often looks too flat and boring and people have a tendancy to over fill a page with more information than is actually needed making them look cluttered. I have thought about the advantages and disadvantages of both html and flash and figure that the opening index to any site is generally best served in flash after all it has to be eye grabbing. People online simply want eye candy and there's nothing wrong with that. i myself will go look at sites that people have said are cool even if I have no interest in the actual content of the site. As for resolution I make all my stuff html and flash using a 1024 x 768 res but make them for the 800 x 600 res so i know that they can be seen equally as good in both res's. Also I would point out that people often try to compensate on an html page by adding artwork as gifs and jpegs and they have to load too which can often take longer than a well designed flash page the reason for this is that people dont consider the page as whole when making html pages but do when making flash pages. Personally I am limited to a maximum per file upload size of 200kb with my host so file size is something I am very very aware of and even if I make a swf that is right on the 200kb limit line I figure the best thing is to include a really interesting preloader which will grab peoples attention while they wait for the site to download. the truth is i believe that the user should get the choice between an html site and a flash site, let them choose and view which one they prefer. people know that if its a flash site its gonna take a lil time to load in and they accept that but even that has its limits and I would rarely wait more than a minute for a site to load in and if it does then the person who made it really needs to rethink their design process as no site should take longer. im on dial up btw so that also has bearing on my design process. As for 640 x 480 res ... well these people need to evolve and join the rest of the human race in the 21 century. Computer tech is a rapidly evolving science and you dont need mega bucks to keep up even a lil industry standard is good enough and anyone who cant keep up with that may as well resign from the race.

    Gabriel Angeles

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    I would say Flash mostly for entertainment related sites, aimed at younger audiences and areas where it has become the accepted technology (photography portfolios and similar - they all seem to be made in Flash these days and here it makes sense from a technological point of view). In other areas possibly for navigation, interactive maps or similar features, rather than large areas of the site. Personally, I prefer a well-made HTML site to a well-made Flash site - the Flash rarely impresses me and if it does, it's usually more 'oh - I wonder how they did that', rather than 'oh - that's really useful!'.

    Regarding the T1/1 minute waiting time comment chook made - I think that is crazy Anybody on a T1 is most probably at work and is (hopefully) looking at your site for a business purpose. In those cases the 8 second rule definitely applies - they will never ever wait for 1 minute to load your site. Just sit in front of your computer and watch the clock for 1 minute - it is endless!

    as to screen-resolution: 800x600

    file-size: smaller is better I always feel that 100kB is a good size limit for anything in Flash, if you can make it in 50k, even better (that is for the raw download, if you load other files in afterwards, that would work, as long as it fits in with the general flow of things).

    - n.


  8. #8
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    I think flash is going back towards being the 'icing on the cake' on a lot of sites. It has uses to add a lot of interesting depth and features, but within an html skeleton. For the most part, I'm getting bored of unneccesary uses of flash. I still like to see designer sites/portfolios etc. pushing the boundaries. But it's very rare nowadays that its appropriate to build a corporate client site exclusively in flash (unless it's not very information intensive perhaps).

    I almost always design for 800 x 600.

    I usually try to get my initial download (on hefty flash files) to about 50Kb. Most of the time, I'll need to load more stuff afterwards, but its important to keep the waiting time down. A couple of people before said they reckoned 1 minute was acceptable, I have to say, I reckon even 30 seconds would be too long to wait nowadays without something to keep the visitor occupied. Just 'cos a lot of people are getting cable and ADSL, doesn't mean you've got a licence to immediately double/quadrupe all your file sizes. The advantages of a faster network should be that you can load existing technology sites faster. Not so that designers have an excuse to be lazy. Plus you'd be surprised how many people are still on dialup - outside the cities, people are still getting a lot less than 56Kbps because of the old copper wired phone exchanges,

  9. #9
    Post Mo' Bills chook's Avatar
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    Originally posted by enemem

    Regarding the T1/1 minute waiting time comment chook made - I think that is crazy Anybody on a T1 is most probably at work and is (hopefully) looking at your site for a business purpose. In those cases the 8 second rule definitely applies - they will never ever wait for 1 minute to load your site. Just sit in front of your computer and watch the clock for 1 minute - it is endless!
    I guess I should have clarified my point a little more, but I totally agree with you.

    For people surfing the net at work, they want sites that are quick to load, with instant usability. They don't want to be sitting through a 60-90 sec preloader, they want to get in, find what they're looking for and get out. People who are just cruising around looking for cool sites to check out they may have a bit more patience, and may be more apt to wait for the site to fully load.

  10. #10
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    Originally posted by chook
    Originally posted by enemem

    Regarding the T1/1 minute waiting time comment chook made - I think that is crazy Anybody on a T1 is most probably at work and is (hopefully) looking at your site for a business purpose. In those cases the 8 second rule definitely applies - they will never ever wait for 1 minute to load your site. Just sit in front of your computer and watch the clock for 1 minute - it is endless!
    I guess I should have clarified my point a little more, but I totally agree with you.

    For people surfing the net at work, they want sites that are quick to load, with instant usability. They don't want to be sitting through a 60-90 sec preloader, they want to get in, find what they're looking for and get out. People who are just cruising around looking for cool sites to check out they may have a bit more patience, and may be more apt to wait for the site to fully load.
    yeah - I take your point. So in a way it's about target audiences again. Having said that, you'd probably agree too that all sites should be built with the interested, focused visitor in mind (ie. loading quickly), rather than the casual surfer who might pop round for a quick look. And if it loads quickly, both groups of people will benefit...

    - n.


  11. #11
    Post Mo' Bills chook's Avatar
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    Originally posted by enemem


    ... you'd probably agree too that all sites should be built with the interested, focused visitor in mind (ie. loading quickly), rather than the casual surfer who might pop round for a quick look. And if it loads quickly, both groups of people will benefit...

    - n.
    yup, for sure. i totally agree with you again.
    when we first started out was "How am I gonna do this in Flash?"

    Now, I sit with the client and diligently go over what they want to achieve and to whom. It's painstaking sometimes but it makes our job so much easier.

  12. #12
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    Originally posted by narcisis
    Secondly, what resolution to develop for? 800x600 is still said to be the standard for most users, but 1024x768 is quickly making its stamp. What todo what todo - Comments?
    Whilst some design firms do neat work in Flash which use the latest versions and scripts, some of the HTML work is not so up-to date on the technological front (not server pages though), using depracted tags such as font, bold and tables instead of CSS. (According to W3.org tables should only be used for data tabular charts rather than page layout, though few employ this in site design.)

    Whilst I am not a fan, fluid CSS can work for all browser sizes (and other devices) and is something that W3.org and certain others state as a priority for fully accessible web sites for governments and education facilities. They also state that sites should be viewable for 800 by 600 at least also.

    This may have ramifications for other sites in following certain design rules in years to come when a company should have its information open to the public and should be declared accessible to anyone.


  13. #13
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    Originally posted by k2f
    Whilst I am not a fan, fluid CSS can work for all browser sizes (and other devices) and is something that W3.org and certain others state as a priority for fully accessible web sites for governments and education facilities. They also state that sites should be viewable for 800 by 600 at least also.[/B]
    I think this is a very interesting topic - and very true what you said about many sites not using up-to-date HTML. What I was wondering: what aren't you a fan of? CSS? the w3? it would be interesting to hear a little more about that...

    - n.

  14. #14
    Senior Member JFlashK's Avatar
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    1. complete flash, mix or html site?
    I think, full flash sites are good when you need to design a graphic intensive site with a dynamic (young) audience. I use html for sites with a lot of content. My last sites were a mixture of html and flash. I think this is a good way to build impresive looking sites with a lot of content.

    2. I design for 800x600 all the time. maybe if your target audience are graphic designer you can design for higher res.

    3. what is to big, I design with a 56k modem in mind. For heavy graphics site (http://www.dogstyle.be) I make 2 versions, for slow and fast connections. But the most important thing is: try to reduce your filesize at all time!


    http://www.web-works.be

  15. #15
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    Originally posted by enemem
    Originally posted by k2f
    Whilst I am not a fan, fluid CSS can work for all browser sizes
    I think this is a very interesting topic - and very true what you said about many sites not using up-to-date HTML. What I was wondering: what aren't you a fan of? CSS? the w3? it would be interesting to hear a little more about that...

    - n. [/B]
    I am not a fan of fluid or liquid style sites (that are to be used for accessible sites). These are similar to tables or frames being set to a % and fill the browser window regardless of the window dimensions. CSS is very good for styling and formatting many site pages, quickly and cleanly.

    Graphics and layouts will not be as intended by the web graphic designer, compared to a fixed design using frames, tables or CSS.

    "Guideline 5. Create tables that transform gracefully. Ensure that tables have necessary markup to be transformed by accessible browsers and other user agents. Tables should be used to mark up truly tabular information ("data tables"). Content developers should avoid using them to lay out pages ("layout tables")."

    http://www.w3.org/TR/WAI-WEBCONTENT/#toc

  16. #16
    Senior Member JFlashK's Avatar
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    what do you guys think about the use of frames?
    is it allowed or is it bad?


    http://www.web-works.be

  17. #17
    Massah o de obitwang narcisis's Avatar
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    Lightbulb

    Hm.. what I'm getting is that, using tables as a page layout is.. wrong/bad??

    I was always taught this was the way todo things. Most pages are layed out with tables containing sliced graphics which conform to the browsers sizing, are they not?

  18. #18
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    Originally posted by narcisis
    Hm.. what I'm getting is that, using tables as a page layout is.. wrong/bad??

    I was always taught this was the way todo things. Most pages are layed out with tables containing sliced graphics which conform to the browsers sizing, are they not?
    yes - and probably 99% of sites still work like that (and will for quite some time )

    The idea is that tables are really used for presenting related information in a tabular form - where all the items in one column relate to some column title (vice versa for rows) for example. And just like you wouldn't use tables in Word to actually format the page, you shouldn't use them in HTML either. it used to be the only way but with CSS it isn't necessary any longer (theoretically )

    there is a very useful article here

    haven't used this much up to now but am hoping to implement the next project as '100% conforming to specifications'.

    - n.

  19. #19
    Massah o de obitwang narcisis's Avatar
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    How is it no longer needed?

    How can CSS replace this technique of page formatting?
    I dont really know anything outside of CSS other than it's builtin capabilites envovled with Macromedia Dreamweaver, and it doesn't really have that feature, I think..

  20. #20
    general rule bender Gloomycus's Avatar
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    Originally posted by JFlashK
    what do you guys think about the use of frames?
    is it allowed or is it bad?


    http://www.web-works.be
    I have no problem with frames, as long it is used where its need is warranted. I've seen many sites around that could have been done in single pages as opposed to frames.

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