August 29, 2000
Using Flash instead of HTML to create a Web site can make the site a great success or a great failure. Poor design can annoy users and send them running from the site in a hurry. Good design, however, can delight users so much they'll tell all their friends about the site. The Color Masters Precious Jewelry Web site's use of Flash animation is tasteful rather than annoying, leaving the site with a simple yet sophisticated feel that compliments the company's image and products.
Viewers are greeted with a simple animated introduction when they enter the Flash site. The main categories of the site are listed on the left, each with an animated rollover describing the section in more detail. When the user enters a section, the navigation moves to the bottom of the screen, so users can jump to different parts of the site without having to return to the main page.
Throughout the site, Flash is used to animate simple product images, giving the site a lively feel. If viewers don't click from image to image in the "View Our Designs" section, Flash will do it for them. Each image fades in, and then a spotlight is put on it. After 10 or 15 seconds the light fades out, the image fades away and the next image fades in. Viewers can sit back and watch a slide show of the products.
The site is elegant looking and simple enough for any user to navigate. Flash animation highlights products and makes navigation easy. Image quality is high, and there is plenty of extra information about the company, the quality of the products and how to care for the jewelry. To view the site, you must have the Flash plug-in for your browser. The only major drawback to Color Masters' exceptional site is the lack of an HTML version for the many Web users who use an older version of Netscape or Explorer that doesn't support Flash.
- by Julia M. Duncan