Spotlight: Skip the Intro
Many Flash sites feature an animated introduction, a sort of video played to a passive audience, extolling the qualities of whatever the site is about. The problem with the intro is that it assumes a style of interaction that is the opposite of a user's natural attitude toward a Web site. Web sites are about interaction. At each moment, users are actively searching for their next movethe link or button that will take them on the next step of their journey. An introductory animation assumes an opposite attitude: one of patient passivity.
The title sequence that opens Sleeping Giants is effective actually because it thwarts the user's hunting approach. The movielike opening prepares the user for the cinematic presentation of the main site, which asks users to sit back and be passive for once.
I'm prejudiced against animated intros as a rule, but three sites featured here use themand I have to admit that each provides an economical and well-integrated presentation of key information. Most important, they also all offer Skip Intro buttons, which let users hunting for a goal go quickly on their way. The Skip Intro button gives users a choice. Those who have the patience, or interest, will view the introduction. Those who don't, won'tbut they'll be satisfied users, and that's what you're really after.
The intro for KQED's Beautiful Bay Area lasts just long enough for all of the page's elements to assemble. In those few seconds, it economically introduces the area's range of scenery plus the graphical and navigational vocabulary of the site.