Last weekend, I met this friend of mine named Clifton (aka “Cliffy”), who works for a popular web design and consultancy firm – so popular that his company designs sites for top brands and celebrities. It was our usual coffee shop, and we were glad to find a table given its a Saturday eve. He was going through the details of a soon-to-be-launched internet marketing campaign for one of their clients. He showed me some storyboards of the project and some initial designs made using Flash . “Impressive!”, said I. “Sure it should be”, he paused “We’ve been brainstroming last week before arriving at this one”. I wondered how procedured and structured web design has become – and most importantly, the priority given to Flash-enabled sites when you think that the very same tool was considered as “to be avoided” so many years back when we started designing for the Internet.
Cliffy and I were passionate at computers right from our school days. We designed our school site – that was way back in 1999 when Macromedia Dreamweaver was the obvious choice for building websites; while we did our graphics in PaintShopPro – another tool long forgotten now, we never darred to think of a single Flash movie in our site coz if you did you could bet for sure that people would give you the wildest look. Back then, web design was thought to be simple and we were always taught to avoid needless images and animations. We saw the term Flash predominantly in the “DONT’S”, atleast in our courseware! Only a handful of sites back then had used Flash and books on web design go on complaining how bad a designer you can turn into if you started putting Flash movies on your site. Flash is bad, it takes a hell lot of time to load (bandwith back then was scarce, the avg speeds were 40kbps. Even a page with a few images would take a while to load), you’ve gone nuts if you use Flash – these were the stuff that I get to hear back then constantly!
Its been over 7 years now and the Internet has changed in a big way. Flash has become the defacto standard for creating interactive websites. Cliffy tells that even clients who just need static websites want their design based in some form of catchy Flash design. Cliffy was also briefing me some of his earlier projects that extensively used Flash – an online couresware solution for a leading corporate, a promotion campaign for a large multinational brand – the list ever-expanding and as interesting as their details. In all these projects I was amazed at how Flash has become an important strategy in the e-commerce initiatives of businesses – Flash are no more mere eye-candy graphics or welcome screens, they are now tightly integrated into the e-business plan. So we spoke and we were momentarily interrupted by a cup of cold coffee and I thought it was a nice way to cool off a too techy talk. The next half-hour we chatted over some wild topics, politics (as usual), the scorching summer, the last performance of “Broken Wood” (one of my friends is a bassist in the band and they did a pretty good show a couple of weeks at one of the parties of a famous IT company – I grabbed an invite through my friend!).
As I wished Cliffy goodbye I was still left thinking how Flash has changed the dynamics of web and its ability to steer a creative revolution that could find business applications economically and within many manager’s marketing budgets.
Meet you all in my next post!