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Flash Reference Guide

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Introduction to Design

Last updated Aug 22, 2003.

Let's face it; we've all bought a book or two because of its cover design. I do it all the time. Good design is key to success for any product. When you have a new online business—and you're competing against the likes of eBay, Yahoo, and Amazon.com—good design is crucial.

Fortunately for us, the Web is a great equalizer. Your Web site can look stunning and compete directly with the big boys and you don't need to spend $20,000 to do it. All you need is the know-how and the right tools.

In this course, you'll be introduced to both the "know" of design technique and the "how" to apply it in Flash MX 2004. My goal is to unravel the mysteries of Flash design so that anyone can use it to create great-looking sites.

This course will cover the following:

  • Introduction to Design in Flash
  • Fundamental Design Concepts
  • Breaking up the Screen
  • Branding
  • Using Forms
  • Attracting Attention
  • Different Style Formats

As you can see, this course is an introduction. Experienced Flash designers looking for inspiration will have to look elsewhere for the time being—http://www.how.com is a great advanced style guide. In this introduction, I've also decided not to cover animation, which is a huge subject that should have its own guide (and it soon shall!).

The main focus of this course is on visual presentation. The "Fundamental Design Concepts" section will introduce you to design and what other people are doing with it. You'll find this a useful starting point and springboard for new ideas.

"Breaking up the Screen" will show you how to block out regions of your screen to apply logical layout. This will help you determine the best methods of navigation for your site as well as how to place your content so that it makes sense.

Whether you're building an online advertising program or a training program, you'll still need to be conscious of how you brand the company and its product. The "Branding" section of this course will help you determine just that.

At some point, you'll undoubtedly also have to use a form. Forms are inherently ugly things. They just are. However, with a few dress-up techniques that I'll teach you in "Using Forms," you can make even the most boring tax form look inviting.

As Flash applications grow in size and scope, you'll need to master techniques that enable you to draw attention to specific features in the application you're building. The "Attracting Attention" section will show you some of the attention grabbers you can employ.

The final section of the guide, "Different Style Formats," is a structural launch pad into the vast world of design. Fortunately for Flash designers, some of the best sites are designed with Flash. Here, you'll find inspiration for your next award-winning site.