Animated vs Flash banner
If I hadn’t come across this issue, I would have never thought of clarifying the difference. The reason is quite simple, I don’t like either animated or flash elements on websites. And trust me, I am not the only one. From usability point of view, both of them create huge distraction for the users.
Items on a website which are flashing, blinking, flickering, glowing (I think you get the idea) or moving in any way, affect the old brain which is responsible for detecting danger. A constantly moving object in the corner of the eye means a threat to our brain, hence we cannot help, but looking at it to determine if it can kill us. (Some of them really can…)
That’s why, animated and flash banners are used for advertising. People will look at it for sure. Although, I consider these banners invasive and pushy, I cannot deny the fact that they are widely used, thus they do indeed work.
Since you can meet them at every turn, it’s time to talk about them in greater detail. It may come to you as a surprise, but animated and flash banners are not the same.
This is actually a nickname for ‘animated GIF’ which implies the following facts:
- It’s moving. Not hard to see the connection there. If an object is animated, it has to be in motion.
- What is moving? Now, that’s the bottom line here. GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format and it’s a bitmap image format. So, the expression indicates that such banners are made up of a series of still images.
That is to say, a single animated GIF file contains a set of images that are displayed in the specific order. This sequence of pictures gives the impression of movement. Think of a flip book that you drew in the corner of your booklet’s pages when you were bored in school.
I cannot upload a sample here due to security reasons, but you can check a sample flash intro here.
Another tool to create the same effects as an animated GIF, is Flash, alias Adobe Flash (former Macromedia Flash, Shockwave Flash). Once again, the aim is to display motion, but this time by using a multimedia technology, a software platform. Probably, this didn’t enlighten the gist of Flash, so let’s see what Flash banners can do comparing with animated GIFs.
- Size matters and usually Flash files are smaller than animated GIFs, because they use vector art, namely mathematical data to store information and not bitmap which records every pixel.
- You can add sound and video by using Flash which is not possible with animated GIF.
- With Flash, you can also create interactive content.
- Since a GIF is restricted by its color palette, Flash provides better image quality thanks to its limitless color options.
The possibilities are certainly broader with Adobe Flash, but like many design decisions, it all depends on the needs and purpose of your banner. We can love them or hate them, but we cannot ignore that they are still an effective means of advertisement.
Which one do you prefer?