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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Customize the Home Page

The home page design is a model intended to provide you with structure and a place to begin. You can change the function and design radically, or choose to modify these elements slightly. There are many animated elements provided to you as options, so it might be wise to choose only a few elements, or space out the animation cycles so that you don't stun the user with too much motion. It's better to direct their attention to one or two key places of interest rather than have a riot of color and motion. It's also important to maintain consistency in design. Marketing studies prove that what most users perceive as quality in a Web site is actually consistency of function and design. Keep this in mind when you're choosing the look for your home page. Make sure your design choices are appropriate for all of the material that will come after this section.

The site that I'm creating is intended to attract visitors who have bought or are considering the purchase of a Bot. A Bot is a three-foot tall mobile robot that comes in eight different models. Each model is specialized to perform a certain household task, but a Bot owner can modify their Bot's regimen by loading different regimen programs into the Bot Brain, a hard drive in the Bot's head. The first release of the Bots didn't sell as well as projected, in part because the users found them difficult to program. Only a clever marketing plan that emphasized the fun, easy-to-use features, and a revamp of the Bot interface saved the Bots from the scrap heap. The Web site for the Bots is a portal for sales but it also an online community where Bot owners can share tips, tricks, and receive regimen updates. The look and feel of the site is graphic, with bold cartoon-like illustrations and bright colors. The intent is to put the viewer at ease so they don't feel intimidated by the true high-tech nature of the product.

Temporary Background

In the Temp Background layer is a graphic symbol that covers the entire Stage area. Lock down all of the layers except for the Temp Background layer and double-click the Stage. You'll be in the Timeline for Temporary Background 2. You can use the fill and stroke option in the Tool palette to change the color of the background and outline.

Blue and Green Backgrounds

There are two static color field symbols in the Background layer. One is the blue color block that runs across the middle of the Stage, and the other is the vertical olive green block that sits behind it. Each of these graphic symbols are easy to edit in the context of the Stage or from the Library.

Figure 3.26 The blue and green blocks of color.

Welcome Message

The welcome message and intro to the products and services of this company is the graphic symbol Welcome Text. If you double-click the symbol instance on the Stage, you can change the text to any font you choose as well as change the color and point size. You'll also need to change the content to reflect your own company info.

Figure 3.27 Welcome Message text field on the Stage.

Company Name

The Company Name layer holds the button titled Company Name. Replace this button with your own company name using the font, color, and point size that's consistent with your current brand identity. You can also import your logo, convert it to a symbol, and swap out the graphic using the Instance panel.

Figure 3.28 Company Name element on the Stage.

Color Bar Animation

The Color Bar Movie Clip is located in the Color Bar Animation layer. This is a straightforward alpha fade animation, and you can change the shape, color, and size of the squares easily. The basis for the animation is a single graphic symbol called Animation Square, so any change to this master symbol will effect a change throughout the color cycle square animation.

Figure 3.29 Color Bar Animation Timeline.

Promo Movie Clip

The Mini Promo movie, titled Promo, exists as a Movie Clip in the Animations layer. Lock down all but the Animations layer and double-click the mini promo movie window on the Stage to access its Timeline.

Figure 3.30 Promo Movie Clip Timeline.

The first layer (Text) contains the teaser copy. These messages aren't symbols but rather static text fields that sit in the Timeline. To change the color, size, font and, of course, content, you can edit this directly on the Stage. The second layer (Blue Box) contains the graphic symbol Recessed Box that forms the perimeter of the box. You can edit the color, shape and size on the Stage or directly from the Library. The third layer (Mask) masks off the Bitmaps layer below it so that the tweening of the bitmaps is only visible inside the confines of the window. If you changed the size or shape of the Recessed Box symbol, remember to adjust the mask to fit the new dimensions. You can replace the bitmaps in the bottom layer with your product photos or any images that you'd like to use.

NOTE

Because Flash will compress your photos (also called raster images and bitmap graphics) to .jpg format upon export, it's wise to start with the highest quality file format available. Starting off with a high quality bitmap can help to avoid an extreme double compression that can result in poor quality images upon export. Flash supports the importation of bitmap images in the .png format. .png, pronounced either Ping or P-N-G, is a 32-bit format that is similar to a .gif in that it can support an alpha mask but has the color depth to rival 24-bit .jpg files. One of its key features is that it has an 8-bit alpha channel so it can support gradient transparency unlike the 1-bit alpha mask of a .gif. This enables you to create sophisticated masks with clean edges for your raster images. It also has a more precise compression algorithm than either the .jpg or .gif format, and provides a better quality image with few artifacts. It does result in a slightly larger file size than a .jpg or .gif, but this shouldn't be a concern because you compress the file on export. If your original photographs are in an uncompressed format, such a .tiff, its best to compress them as .png files for importation into Flash for the best result upon rendering.

You can swap out the bitmap symbol with your own, or create a new animation if you prefer to have the images fade, zoom, or rotate through the window. Be aware that tweening large bitmap images takes a lot of processor power. The result of too many bitmaps performing too many tricks can be a jerky, slow animation. To circumvent this issue, avoid having two or more large items tween at the same time—even as little as a frame or two will help. Give the processor a little time to juggle the tweens, and you'll be much happier with the overall animation.

You're not limited to the placement of this Promo Movie Clip; you can move it to any spot on the Stage in the main Timeline of the Main scene. If you do move the Promo Movie Clip, you may want to add a solid background to the window that extends to the perimeter of the Recessed Box symbol. If you move the Promo Movie Clip to a different section of the Stage and don't add a background field, you would see the items behind it on the Stage. Remember that this in only a model, so you can shake it up a bit.

Banners

There are two types of banners in the home page. The banner in the upper right region of the Stage can advertise the name of the company that hosts the site, or the name of the company that created the identity or site. This banner is clickable and will direct the user to the specified Web site in a fresh browser window. The second group of banners at the bottom of the Stage currently links to Macromedia Web sites. You'll change these to reflect your advertisers or partners that warrant high profile placement. These, too, are clickable banners that direct your users to the sites of these companies.

Figure 3.31 Design Studio banner on the Stage.

All of the banners are actually buttons, so it's simple to swap out the graphics provided with your own graphics that you've either imported or created using the Draw tool provide by Flash. You must swap out the graphics, not delete and replace them. If you delete and replace the button, you'll lose this script. Each Macromedia button contains the code:

//This code opens a new browser window to Macromedia's home page.
//To change this link, change the address below.


on (release) {
	getURL ("http://www.macromedia.com", "_blank");
}

Figure 3.32 Advertisers' banners on the Stage.

You need to change the URL address in the script to reflect the Web site that your users intend to visit. Remember that you can move these banners anywhere you'd like on the Stage and they'll still function properly as long as you haven't deleted the code.

Logo

The Object Animation Movie Clip, which is the satellite animation you see at run time, can be found in the Animated Image layer. If you double-click the instance of the Movie Clip on the Stage, you'll see that it's a one-layer Clip with a simple tweens form the animation. You can easily swap out the artwork with your own logo. You can also replace the logo with a graphic of a featured product, or simply an interesting design element.

Figure 3.33 Satellite animation on the Stage.

Vertical Bar Animation

Figure 3.34 Timeline of Vertical Bar Animation.

You'll notice slim lines at run time that dance out from the solid light blue bar bisecting the Stage. This animation is a Movie Clip titled Vertical Bars Animation that exists in the Vertical Bars Animation layer. Double-click the Clip instance on the Stage to enter the Timeline for that Movie Clip to see three lines. The first two lines contain the slim lines that tween back and forth. These lines are comprised of the graphic symbol Line, so any change in color, size, or shape to that symbol will change both dancing lines. The bottom layer contains a drawn line, not a symbol, and would need to be edited directly on the Stage. You can change the keyframes of the line tweens to extend farther into the Stage, or move to the left as well as the right. You can also add more lines—it's up to you.

Side Line Animation

Figure 3.35 Timeline of Horizontal Bar Animation.

When the Movie Clip is playing, you'll see the horizontal bars loop from the top to bottom on the right side of the Stage. This is the Movie Clip Horizontal Bar Animation that lives in the Side Line Animation layer. Double-click the instance on the Stage to see its Timeline. The first layer, Actions, has a script at the end of it's frames that sends the play head back to the first frame so the Movie Clip loops. The bottom layer, Horizontal Bars, contains the graphic symbol that is also named Horizontal Bars. You can edit the graphic symbol to change the color, size, or shape of the lines, or import your own graphics and swap out the symbol.

The Customized Home Page

Here's the customized home page for my fictitious robot company.

Figure 3.36

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