SITE REVIEW: My Very First Flash site - ryanrocks.co.uk

  • ryaninja
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Hi to everybody at Ozzu! I'm new to this forum, so I'll hope you'll excuse me if I'm posting this in the wrong section. I was torn between putting this post in here or in the 'Review my site' section. I chose here in the end because I actually have some flash specific questions to ask. :)

Please also excuse me if I seem a bit newb-ish, but that's prolly cos I am. :wink:
I'm an Oracle Database Administrator by trade, but to be quite honest, it bores the crap out of me, so I thought I'd take it on myself to learn some new skills.

I'm new to Illustrator (here's my first attempt at illustrator art a couple of weeks ago - still work in progress) and I'm also a newbie at flash, which I aquired a few days ago.

Anyway, I've just built my first flash page, using a combination of illustrator for the graphics (and exporting as png files), and flash to build the page and animate it.

Please take a look at my site (well page, cos none of the links are active yet) and let me know what you think in terms of design and stuff...

http://www.ryanrocks.co.uk

Right, now for the questions!

1) A lot of the images I've imported (using the import to stage option, and then creating graphic symbols from the imported image) have lost a lot of image quality, and have a lot of visible artefacts. And not just the ones in the gallery. The 'blog' screenshot has also gone very fuzzy, and the main banner is looking messy due to it too. Any idea why?

2) When I create shapes in illustrator, for example a square, it's composed of a path that has properties on the stroke and fill to give it's appearance. However, I seem to have loads more problems creating and editing shapes in flash.
Back to the square, if I draw one (in Flash) with a black stroke and red fill, and I go to move or edit it, I discover that I have 2 shapes, a red square with no border, and a hollow square with a black border. Which I can then remove each side from the shape manually, it's not even a path in a square shape, each side is a seperate object!
What's up with that? :)

Note - I also seem have huge trouble editing an object (like the colours of a coloured square for instance) once it's been created? I usually end up recreating it as it almost seems easier. Anyone have this when they first starting using flash? Any tips?

3) Setting up the hit frame on buttons is a right git, even with onion skins on, especially as if you use a hollow object only the stroke will be the linkable area. If you use no stroke or fill, I would imagine you wouldn't be able to see it to position it!
Also, I find setting up the hit area tough, as I can't see the area in context to the page, and if you create the graphic beforehand and bring it in as a symbol when editing the button, you still have to play around with the positioning...

I'm sure I had more questions, but I can't remember them right now, and this first post of min is getting a bit long, but if you've got any ideas or suggestions for a mere newb, please bring em on! Constructive (but not too constructive! :D) criticism also welcome.

Sorry for rambling on. :lol:

Ryan
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Post 3+ Months Ago

  • RoyalCW
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I found your first page quite an accomplishment for a first time page. Good job defining your areas and such.

(my credentials - I teach flash and other web development/design programs for the local college)
1. Your page has a bit to much action going on, as in the gallery pictures are changing from one picture to another way to fast. It is understandable that you want to share you wonderful pictures with us...but slow them down. I also wouldn't call it a gallery because we can't scroll or change the pictures when we want. I designed a small banner of pictures on http://www.infinivisionproductions.com for a friend that kind of does what your pictures are doing but a bit more gracefully and without detracting from the actual site itself. If you are going to have pictures swap out in a window like that, I would slow it down, maybe add a fade. Not take up a center stage position...it should be a window into who you are...but not what your page is all about.

2. To much color and visual motion. Not actual movement, but the eye has no path or track to follow in viewing the page. The page needs some fluidity to it without boasting 5 million colors. Actually...after analyzing it again...it could just be the fact that the whole page is tilted, mixed with the colors and flashing images that make it a bit nausiating...

3. It is clear that you have four primary regions...the guest book is kind of hidden in the corner. It would also help to have a traditional menu along the bottom in small letters. They don't have to impede on the overall site design..but just help people know what your offering vice them having to search all over the page for what is there. What in the world is the ninja all about?

4. Creating shapes and manipulating them is easy in flash.
First - Double click the fill to select both the fill and the border together
Second - Double click just the border to select all of the border but not the fill
Third - Go to Window -> Color Mixer or just press shift + f9 to pull up the color mixer This will let you add your own colors to the gradients and change the colors of your shapes. Also the property inspector panel, usually located on the bottom of the gui lets you manipulate every thing in flash. Select your shape, then set your fill and stroke colors for you shape using the property panel.

5. The on hit issue isn't really an issue...in your button, go to the hit frame and just draw a shape that defines your hit area....the shape isn't actually visible...it just sets the area for the mouse to change.

Hope this helps...I am by no means a master...but I have been doing this for a long time and seen many students learn through trial and error. Always been my job to guide and help.

RoyalCW
  • ryaninja
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Post 3+ Months Ago

RoyalCM, thanks very much for taking the time out to look at my page, and then provide comments, I really apprecia

One thing I forgot to write in my initial post is that this is only a page at present, but will turn into a site after more work by me. I would still consider this work a rough draft and is very much work in progress, with me updating it as I get time in non-work hours (unfortunately!). That and I'm very new to flash, so I'm kinda stumbling along at the moment, trying to figure out what is and isn't possible to do...

1. You are right about the scrolling pictures. They are currently changing too quickly, and do detract a lot of attention away from the rest of the page. I created this bit last, and haven't actually changed the animation at all from when I first set it up to see if it would work (I'm working mostly by trial and error at the moment!). When I discovered it did, I 'wooped', and immediately uploaded the page, so I could view it from both my mac and PC to see if it displayed ok. However, that section is called gallery, because it will eventually point to one - that's not meant to be the actual gallery!

2. I really wanted to do some dort of comic book type design, and I thought the tilted bit looked ok from a viewing perspective. Do you have any suggestions to keeping this layout, but making it easier on the eye? I wanted black as the main background, red as the primary colour, and then white and yellow as secondary colours. Do you think ditching the yellow would be a better idea? I also think I might have to change the yellow-to-red gradient on the gallery section as it's quite distracting. I thought maybe a simple black to white or black to red gradient would work better, as without anything there, the section looks a bit bare.

3. The traditional menu is a very good idea, although I might put it behind some sort of site map. I was considering moving the guestbook to the empty bottom section, and putting a site map tucked up in the top where the guestbook was. Either that, or I might incorporate the menu into the main banner section.

4. Thanks a lot for this info, believe me, it was most needed and much appreciated! I swear I am using the property inspector, but on occasion when I've selected objects and tried to change their colours, nothing's happened. It's almost certainly user error, as I'm more used to Illustrator's way of doing things! :)

5. I know the shape isn't actually visible for the hit area, but I find it very hard to line up the hit area with the actual page. I suppose a better idea might be to create the whole section as a button, not just a small button with a large hit area, if that makes sense. That way, I'd just create the hit area that covers all of the button, instead of having the button as just the ninja picture, but then a much bigger shape area over the top for the hit area, for example.

Thanks again for your comments, I'll see if I can implement some of your suggestions over the next day or two...

Cheers

Ryan
  • RoyalCW
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Post 3+ Months Ago

After sleeping on it...I have more comments based on thinking and your reply:

The tilt is actually a good thing to maintain that comic book feel, just reduce the amount of angle...maybe 25 degrees for the top row and 20 degrees for the bottom row. It looks like it's at almost 45 degrees now. It is a good idea..just a bit less is better in this case.

You had a good idea...putting the guest book into the bottom right corner or you could put your menu down there...just leave it as simple text and make it look something like this:

Gallery | My Blog | Ninja | Guest Book

Make the text clickable and maybe make it a medium gray that won't stand out to much but still is noticable.

The banner is a bit large...not overly but feels cramped in the space. I would drop it down a few sizes...so instead of a 52 (just and example size)...use a 46 font size for it. Something just slightly less.

Of all the sections, the ninja section looks best. It's clean, simple on the eye and the colors all relate to the ninja. That is the ninja is black, with red eyes. There is a red mist/glow surrounding the ninja and everything is about the ninja.

The bottom left blog section is nice...but it has to much going on inside it. I'd cut out the right side of the image...the small white boxes and text and focus more on the anime character in there. Guess that would be the Ryan nja guy to focus on. He has several things going for him. He is in the right theme to match with the ninja. He has the red and black theme going with him and he is tasteful. So...just cut out the right side of that...those white boxes with the stuff in them and white text in there that are all part of the image. By the way, is the top white picture a storm trooper? The second white picture the small video where the cartoon bangs his head to death on the keyboard?

I agree about the rainbow...maybe drop that out. What you could do...if you wanted to incorporate the yellow or orange color into that gallery frame is to make a cloudy or misty aura around the gallery that kind of accentuates the gallery image window.

Finally, The comming soon section has no feeling to the site. I know, it is only temporary, but you could make it in the shape of a ninja star or something...give it a ninja or comic book weapon feel to it. Instead of coming soon and the text wrapped around the star, I'd just put, "For Future Development".

In the property inspector you can always tell if you have a specific item actually selected because it will say what it is in the bottom left corner of the panel. So a shape will say shape, movie clips will say movie clips. The reason I mention this is because if you select a frame in the time line it will select all the objects in the frame, but not necessarily actually selecting them. Even if it looks selected, check the property panel and if it doesn't show the properties for the expected selection, click on the item you wish to change.

Well, hope that helps some more and good luck.

RoyalCW
  • ryaninja
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Post 3+ Months Ago

RoyalCW wrote:
Of all the sections, the ninja section looks best. It's clean, simple on the eye and the colors all relate to the ninja. That is the ninja is black, with red eyes. There is a red mist/glow surrounding the ninja and everything is about the ninja


You are of course, correct again, everything *is* about the ninja! :) It always is...!

Just a quick reply to let you know I'm gonna put some of these suggestions into action and see how it goes!

As far as the blog bit is concerned, it's an actual screenshot from my blog, which is why you've got the stormtrooper and the guy banging his head on the desk (me at work!). Well spotted!!! :D I think I probably will remove that bit, and just have the banner as the preview to my blog. Incidentally, you can confirm all your suspicions about the pics - my blog is http://ryaninja.blogspot.com - another first attempt - this time into the world of CSS, but I did that about a year ago now, and promptly forgot most of the CSS I had learnt!

Thanks again for all your comments and ideas, I'll post again shortly - I'm gonna go see if I can't improve upon this baby!
  • raees
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I visited your site.First of all it took too long to download. I use 56k modem.which should be avoided becaz many of ur potential site visitors will get frustrated of this and will leave ur site and perhaps will start visiting ur competitor site.
The other flaw i observed, is that this page has both vertical & horizantal scroll bars.It is again a contradictory to a good design principal.
Many web development guru avoid the use of flash due to the reason that it make the site messy & heavy.Also don't u think that the background color (black) should be changed.

Keep it up.
  • ryaninja
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Quote:
First of all it took too long to download. I use 56k modem


Hi raees, thanks for looking. I'm suprised that it took so long, as it was only something like 200kb in size, it popped up instantly for me at home and work... still it's been quite a few years since I was on dial up! I'm not sure how I would have gotten the filesizes smaller, because macromedia was compressing all the images heavily, which is why I was losing a lot of quality, as I mentioned earlier.

I'm afraid you're not gonna like my latest incarnation... In an effort to keep the compression artefacts ruining the look of the site, I turned off the image compression. Now the page is 600kb in size, which I will admit may be a little on the large size, for one page! However it does look nicer... Anyone got any ideas on achieving a happy medium?

As far as dial up users go, I'm afraid that most of my visitors will be broadband users, so I'm focusing more on getting the site built first rather than saving the odd kb here and there. I don't expect to have hundreds of visitors, as this is just my own humble personal page. This is more a project to learn how to use flash and illustrator (and how to use them together!).
However, at some point I will be looking into a preloader, so that might help things a bit.

As far as the scrollbars are concerned, that's because you're using a resolution of 1024x768. I have changed the size a little so the bars should not appear, but again I am focusing my site at users with newer technology and larger displays.

If you can be bothered to wait for the 600kb page to download, it should be alright now.

RoyalCW, I've now implemented some of your suggestions. This still isn't finished, but what do you think so far? I'm planning on putting some more detail into the contact me, and the gallery section, and of course the links still aren't valid.

I will also place a few easy navigation links too, I was going to put them to the right of the banner....

So... what do you think? :) I hope you can see a slight increase in my skills - I'm starting to get the hang of the procedures involved for precreating graphics and implementing them in flash, as well how to use flash! :D
  • ryaninja
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Post 3+ Months Ago

RoyalCW, I forgot to say in the other post, the ninja will be a link to all things ninja related, and probably pirate and robot related too... :D

Oh, and raese, now that you mention it, the background does look a little plain. I was thinking I might go for a soft grey to black gradient....
  • ryaninja
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I've updated my page again, using a bit more animation, and I've tidied it up as well. I've managed to get the filesize down to 484kb. Do you think this is still too big for what's there?

Also, when I figure out how to set symbol buttons as links, I'll update some of them too.... :oops:

Please let me know what you think of my page so far, and if you've got any pointers, they'd be most useful, as I'm still stumbling in the dark a bit! :)
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I checked out the website and I liked the Blogs. I didn't know there was a TMNT movie coming out in 2007 but the pictures explained it all. Also you featured a spin-off article about Snakes on an Airplane that was creative and funky. Samuel Jackson is a bad mother*uc*er!

I find blogger to be an easy to customize, easy update blog service. You really tricked out your page with anime and the theme is rad! The ninjas, gallery, and guestbook quick links do not work so I was unable to check those out. I would recommend puttting in a "tell a friend" form too.
  • ryaninja
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Hey resqjax, thanks! :)

I am quite pleased with my blog, as I customised it from a basic black blogger template, and as I didn't know ANY css at the time, I had to use a lot of trial and error so it took quite a long time!

My blog itself does have the option to email the post to someone, it's that little envelope... Maybe it's not visible enough.
Or did you mean I should put a link on the front page, so that people could notify others of my ryanrocks site?

I'm glad you liked my blog, although it's not technically part of my site as it's hosted elsewhere, on blogger. :)

I'm currently in the process of re-doing my ryanrocks site, which is why I haven't got any more links working yet. Also, I thought I'd get the opinion from the Gurus here at Ozzu to help guide a newb through the creation of his first site!

What do you think of it so far everyone?
  • intiendes
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Post 3+ Months Ago

shockingly ... i could not see anything but plainly black ... so i suggest you put something in there for someone to look at too...
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I can't see a thing either, in FF or IE! :?
  • ryaninja
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Really?

That's strange - I checked from work (never been there before from here) just a second ago, and it pops up fine...

Stupid question I know, but you have got flash 9 installed on your browsers haven't you? :)
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Post 3+ Months Ago

ryaninja wrote:
Stupid question I know, but you have got flash 9 installed on your browsers haven't you? :)


I do. Still nothing... :?
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Hmmmm... that IS weird, especially as 2 different people are getting this...

Right! I've just asked a colleague to check the link too! :)

In internet explorer, the page loads, but while it's doing that it looks like an unlinked image. Once the 4-500k flash file has loaded, internet explorer then brings up one of those little tab errors that says a security module is not installed (or an activeX control needs to be enabled), and you need to right click to install it.

It loads up straight away on my machine, but my colleague has to do this just the once, on the first visit. I don't know why. Last time I came across something like this it was because the source webpage contained some Javascript, but I don't think this is the case in this scenario.

Also, just to further clarify, my site address is:

http://www.ryanrocks.co.uk

Sorry for all the trouble, I can't understand why it works here at my place of work (and no, the page isn't cached either!) but not for you guys! :evil:
  • lioness
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Works in IE now, but not FF. None of the links work though, are they not activated yet?
  • ryaninja
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Hmmm... I didn't change anything, but I'm glad it works now! Although why would it work in IE, but not FF....? Any ideas anyone? I'll test this when I get home from work soon....

The only link that works is the blog bit, and that doesn't really count as part of my site, cos it's hosted on blogger, although it did take me ages to customise the CSS! :)

However, I just wanted to get people's opinions on my work in progress. I'm going to be adding addtional pages as I create them but for the moment what do you think of what I have so far, for my first venture into flash?

EDIT: Got it! The page should now work for one and all! :)
  • Tinytoast
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Now I'm diggin' that. The more I see flash sites that work well, the more I know I have to learn. Be checkin' back on that one. Great job so far.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Thanks man! :D You actually have to learn very little to produce something like this - I'm a total newb and I've only been using flash for about a week, as that's how long I've been working on this! If you want to know how I did any of this, just ask, I'd be happy to tell ya!

I've probably only spent about 10 actual hours working on this mind you, but a lot of that was me procrastinating or changing ideas!
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Hi,
Great for a first flash site !
Anyway, i know that some of you don't like it but i think adding sound and/or music would be great for your site.

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