Join Robert Hoekman, Jr. for an in-depth discussion in this video Examples of effective Flash user experiences, part of Flash User Experience Best Practices.
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>> In this section I'd like to show you some examples of some good Flash user experiences. And one of them is the Iokio CameraFinder. This is an application that I first heard about a couple of years ago. It's been around for a little while and everyone was blogging about it and raving about it at the time. And I haven't really heard much about it lately, but it is still one of the best examples of a rich internet application that's around. And basically, what this application allows you to do that an HTML application probably could never do or never even approach is basically, the application is here so that you can try to find a camera that fits your needs.
So you start out with a somewhat overwhelming view of a bunch of cameras. And what you can do is actually search for a particular camera by name. And as you type in the name of the camera, as you can see, all the other ones grey out. So the only ones that are left are the Canon cameras that I searched for. If I go ahead and delete that, everything comes back. But look what else I can do. I can adjust the price range. So with the price range, if I want to spend say between a hundred and fifty dollars and five hundred dollars, that eliminates a few of the options.
If I want my camera to be more than two megapixels, I just take this slider and drag it up, and let's say I want it to be between four and eight megapixels. That eliminates some most of the cameras. And how about the weight. Maybe between a hundred and ninety-one grams and let's say four hundred grams. Which is a pretty decedent range, that eliminates even more. The memory, the amount of memory it comes supplied with. Between twenty and a hundred and eighty-four megs of memory.
And the size guide. Let me adjust the size, and we get down to just two last cameras. Then we've even got even more options; the focal length, and the optical zoom guide. So both those cameras are still qualifying which means I've set all of my restrictions for what I need a camera to do, and these are the two that I have left. And they even come with tool tips so you can tell exactly what kind of camera it is. Now let's say I choose the EasyShare DX7590.
Just go ahead and click on that, and what I get is a page full of information about that camera. Now this is an excellent example of a Flash application. And it definitely accomplishes some things that you could probably never accomplish with an HTML based application. And so this is one of the more compelling reasons to use Flash instead of HTML when it comes to say an online catalog, or an online shopping cart, or a reservation system, like the Broadmoor Hotel example that I showed you earlier.
Now I also wanted to try to find an effective use of Flash animation. Where animation was actually used to increase and improve the user experience. And that's not always the easiest thing to do, because animation is often used for things like ad banners and it's used for little pop up windows and it's used for splash intros, on websites where you go there and you have to sit through a twenty second animation about how great a company is before you can actually find out how great the company is by looking at the content on our web site. So Flash animation is often used in such ways that it actually hinders the user experience instead of improves it.
But one of the ways that I have used Flash animation in the past, is I created a cartoon character once for a company that I worked for. We were going to a trade show, and rather they were going to a trade show, I was sitting back in the office working. And they needed some way to draw people to the trade show booth the whole time that they were there, and so that they could get more attention, and get more people, and get more interest in the software that they were trying sell. So they were going to have a projection screen at the trade show booth, so I whipped up this cartoon character, and I happily did all this in just a couple of days, it was actually kind of fun.
And had someone else in the office record some audio, and what we ended up with was Sophina. >> How you doin? >> So that's Sophina. And basically was Sophina does is she just sits there. She sits there and gets projected up onto a screen on the projection booth and the person controlling the laptop who's manning the booth, uses keyboard shortcuts to make her say all kinds of various things. >> Nice to meet you. And there were quite a lot of audio files recorded for Sophina.
And basically, one person stood at the booth the entire time and projected Sophina up onto the projection screen at the trade show booth. And just had Sophina call out random things every so often such as; >> As far as you know. As an answer to a question. And something about Sophina was apparently so attractive that it managed to keep a line of people around the trade show booth for three straight days. And that contrasts to the prior experience that we'd had at the same conference the year earlier where we couldn't get a customer at our booth to save our lives.
So this is one of the ways that I managed to get an animation created that would allow an improved user experience, and create an experience that would actually draw people's attention and get them to come to our trade show booth. So while it's not the best animation in the world, it was definitely effective. It kept a line of people at the trade show booth for several days, and I proved to myself once and for all that animation could actually be used to contribute to a good user experience. Since then, I've basically resisted using Flash for animation, without purpose.
And I've tried to focus on how to use Flash to generally improve experiences. I no longer use Flash to create ad banners, I no longer use Flash animation to create pop-up windows, or splash intros or anything like that. I only touch Flash animation if I think it's actually going to help the user in some way. If it's going to draw their attention to an important piece of content on your web site, if it's going to just draw their eye to a certain spot, help them understand something, maybe you've got some data visualization that you need to do, and animation will actually help the user understand how that data can be represented.
That's the way that I would use Flash. So to just sort of wrap things up, I just wanted to reiterate that there are some great ways that Flash can be used to improve user experiences. Whether it's with rich internet applications, or even with animation. And in some ways, Flash provides user experiences that HTML just can't touch, and there are great ways to use Flash. So my best advice is to simply look for those. And as we go through the rest of the course, we'll be looking at more of them. 1
Please note that while this training title is relevant regardless of which version of Flash you are using, if you wish to follow along with the exercise files, you will need Flash 8 to open the files.