Click to See Complete Forum and Search --> : A talk about current sites and background images

02-25-2001, 09:12 PM
Hey guys, I don't really know where to post stuff like this, so if any moderators want to point me in the right direction, go ahead. I figure it should go here, cause it has to do with the "coolsites" i look at from here.

I've seen many sites lately where they use multiple background images however, I really dont' see a purpose in doing this other than to "show off" or a derivative thereof. I mean some, the ones that are good, are beautiful to look at. They're well constructed and such, but what does it add to their site? I mean, choose one that best describes your site. I feel that if you give the user an option to choose which one, it means you as a designer are unsure of your own choices.

I know one reason is to emulate desktop systems. But honestly, does a viewer really care what background they're viewing at a site? They're only going to be looking at the background for max 15 minutes? don't really know. The idea of different backgrounds for a computer screen WORKS because the person sees the screen for most of the time they're on their computer. These different "choices" are sucking up bandwith that is really wasted in my opinion.

Why not use this talent to create backgrounds and make a portfolio section, or some sort of special showcase for the work. That way the viewer can see the work by itself and appreciate it much more than if it was a simple background. Or take that skill that these designers have and take it to the next step. Incorporate these designs a little more closely into their whole site and make it WORK, make it enhance what they're trying to say.

Have I done that personally? I can't do those fancy background techno-images. I haven't really tried. But in my own designs I've tried to make every image count, as I as well as many people are on 56.6K modems.

I'd like to know what other people are thinking. Maybe it's just me. Maybe i'm not alone. I want to find out. I'm curious as to where the future of design is and where it's going. And this is just one of many things that I'd like to bring up in these forums. Thanks for your time. hope to hear from you all.


02-25-2001, 11:23 PM

I concur sir. You are absolutely correct. There is no point in having more than one bkgd image on a flash site. Similiarly, there is no point in having a draggable menu on a flash site, but that doesn't stop people, now does it? The reason for this is because people see it on a popular site, and they feel as if they have to incorporate it into there site, even if it serves no other purpose than to say, "hey, i can do this too." But the multiple bkgd images doesn't bother me as much as the draggable windows and menus. I really can't stand them, how do you feel about them?

02-25-2001, 11:49 PM
You're jumping ahead of me!! heh. actually, I'd love to talk about alot of things that bother me, and things that, me personally am trying to not do. The draggable windows is another thing that irks me......if not done well.

Quite honestly, it's nice that you can drag things, but it seems we all are stuck into thinking only "windows" can be dragged. why? because that's what we do so often when we work on the computer. Why do we drag? To see what's behind, like an browswer window, our email, or photoshop. There's a FUNCTION behind it.

Now when this is converted to a flash site, it's unnessasary. There's no way that there are that many "windows" on screen that we need to "drag" them out of the way. (If there were, the system would slug anyway, as I've seen in some sites. Flash takes up processing cycles guys!) And 90% of the time the site itself is 550x400 pixels!! I mean, where can you drag the window?!?!?!?! One exception might be egomedia. They use the entire screen, so it "emulates" a desktop system. Now granted, there really isn't a NEED to drag the windows, but it's nice. and not bothersome because there is plenty of room to move it.

You're right, most people see it and decide to copy it. And I think they lose the meaning behind what the designer intended. It's a shame, and it's all around us in any medium, web or print. What hurts is not many people are acknowledging this as such. They still see it as "cool" even though it's really just form copied and not concept.

Now, honestly, I've looked at sites, and have been influenced by different styles. And I've emulated them in my sites, but I try to not just copy them, but rather take the "style" and incorporate it with my own style of design. I mean, let's face it. Nothing's truly original. We're all rehashing stuff in one way or another. But to develop it into something that is you and not 2advanced or balthaser, that's the key to a "cool site."

To keep on the draggable windows topic, when I first learned about the ability to "drag" stuff in Flash 4, I never thought of windows....go figure. I created a neat little puzzle that the user would have to put together by dragging the pieces to the board. Simple, I know, but I was learning at the time. And the dragging served a PURPOSE.

Ah well, I'm going to get going. I'd like to hear what you have to say Josiah, as well as anyone else on these forums. I mean, this applies to all of us in design.


NEXT TOPIC IN MIND: 3 Second techno sound loops......*sigh*

02-26-2001, 12:25 AM
sometimes it's difficult to understand how design conventions have been shaped... why certain ideas are considered necessary and others unnecessary. it's a very important question... I'll move this thread to the boardroom forum.

anyway I like that you brought this up, it's something worth struggling over I think, since in my view every design concept that is being applied to flash is still entirely questionable and debatable!

Some people are simply more capable than others of being inspired in less than literal ways if you know what I mean, and I think this is where the questions of what is valid and what isn't comes from.

anyway good post, hope to hear more thoughts... :)

02-26-2001, 06:06 AM
I think it is important to realise that for many, our web pages are our CVs (resumes) and so on the whole we have to work on first impressions. Much of the time it is a case of showing as much of what you can do in a short space of time.

On the other hand, when submitting your CV to a job you don't "eurostyle curly writing" as a font do you, looks pretty perhaps. Nor do you give details of every day you were at school, no one cares. CVs and "showcase" websites need therefore to balance "showing off" skills and showing the use of important and indeed useful design techniques.

02-26-2001, 05:05 PM
you're mostly right. there really isn't a "reason" or higher meaning to multiple backgrounds. my reply to designers who do this is -- why not? my own site does this, as well as the site for the agency i work for. it's surely not to show off because, let's be honest, it's not that hard to do.

i'm not a fan either of techno, sprouting knife shaped backgrounds (because i see this EVERYWHERE), but hey, if they want to do that, that's fine by me. everyone has their own thing (actually some people have *other* people's things, but that's another topic).

so why the backgrounds? why do i have 4 music tracks to choose from? it's because i want the user to have a combination that not every other user has chosen. i had thought about making "presets", a background and audio combination, because i haven't see that done, but i elected to just let them decide.

as far as emulating other people's styles -- my take on it is flash design is just like anything else. lets take, and this is just off the top of my head, automobile design. styles change, different company's cars look very similar to one another. this is just something that happens through time. we know what is in style right now. just look at what you're wearing today and where you bought it. did you buy it at gap? well, gap has a style of course, but everyone knows it's not out of line with the other major retailers, right?

on the draggable-menu thing -- i honestly only see maybe 20% of those sites that really have a functional use for such schemes. the others i suspect are just for an it-can-be-done presentation. and that's fine too.

many issues hinge on what the target is, what the goals are, and what the message is. it's up to the designer ot figure out how to best deliver these things, and that's where i personally gauge how good the work is.

too many people complain about this site and that site. do they really think that the designer targeted THEM specifically? some of them actually do! let's remember we're not in every designer's head and let things take their course.

02-26-2001, 05:17 PM
Draggable menus to me have always had no point. People use them as a crutch when they can't figure out how to design menu elements into their overall page. It is possible to make these menu aspects fit well into the overall look of the page.

But still, I think people use these draggable windows simply because it's something that can be done. I've never liked them, never seen a single good use of them. Honestly.
Make things fit into the page, create some unity and coherance into it. Of all the silly dragging menu sites I've seen, I've never once needed to drag the windows, unless of course someone has designed the page to let people move the menus because once a menu appears on the screen, there is no way to collapse it. Then, by making the menus draggable, the user can get the offending menu out of the way to view the one that they want to see.
That's garbage. Do it right the first time and don't give people a reason to drag something "just because."
I mean, there are much more creative things to do that mimic the common draggable windows of an Operating System...


02-26-2001, 08:20 PM
Speaking of different sound clips in a site, or rather music in general. Why have music at all? 90% of the sites out there that incorporate music are 3 second techno loops that serve zero purpose. Then there are the few that sound good, but honestly, do they really add anything to the site? Now, there are some that I've seen that really use music to emotionally grasp the viewer, but most are, again, just used to be used. I'd rather silence so that it doesn't interrupt my MP3's in the background, but that's just me.

Another thing, why is it ALWAYS techno-electronico-cyber-bells and whistles type music? whatever happened to rock, pop, ambiance, country, etc. I know that some might not work in certain situations, but i don't think many sites have tried these enough to say that they don't work. Just because flash is on the computer cyber techie world thing, doesn't mean that it has to sound like one.

I don't know, just getting things off my chest. I appreciate those that have replied with their own views. It's interesting to see you all with similar yet different opinions regarding these topics. Thanks, and keep it up. I'll see ya.