17 Jazzing Up Your Web Pages: The Good, the Bad, or the UGLY?

If images, videos, and fonts are a good idea why not animated GIFs, Emoticons, and flashy things of all kinds? Why not just kick things up a notch with some moonwalking?

Yeah! That looks cool!!!

But wait.

This handbook is all about the rhetoric. Does your flashy thing have a purpose? What will your reader/user think? Will they say, “This is so cool; I want to be just like this person”? Or will they say: “No way I am touching this flashy page with a ten foot pole” and move on as quickly as they can click the back button?

Each time you jazz up your web page, you need to think about your readers and about the values you are communicating to your readers.

Wait—Animated GIFs Aren’t Cool Anymore?

What’s considered cliche in the world of web writing?

Animated GIFs are cute, but they can slow down page loading times considerably. While they were immensely popular in the 1990s, today they are usually only found on MySpace pages, fan web sites, and signature lines in forum posts in some online communities. Animated GIFs do not show up on smart phones, and they are usually limited to certain interface elements.

And while we’re at it, Flash can be uncool too, especially when it’s used to create a slow-to-load, super-fancy introduction screen that does little but keep users from getting to the content they want.

What about Those Big Flashing Animated Menus? They’re So Rad!

I keep hearing about Flash, Silverlight, and all this other stuff that will make my site more interactive and animated? Can I add these to my blog?

Before delving into how to learn to use Flash or Silverlight, keep in mind that not all readers will be able to access the content. iPad and iPhone users, for example, won’t be able to see flash animations or applications. Silverlight may require a download, and visitors to your site may not have the time, space, or inclination to download it just to view your site.

If you really want to learn more about animation, HTML5 offers many animation tags that are becoming more popular and more widely supported. See Mark Pilgrim’s Dive into HTML5 or W3Schools HTML5 Tutorial.

Freeze frame of a Michael Jackson GIF
Figure 22. Animated GIFs are no longer in style.


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Writing Spaces Web Writing Style Guide Copyright © 2011 by Writing Spaces is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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