Animation & Sound Effects
We also offer multimedia website design that can include everything from simple animations and sound effects, to full-blown Flash movie presentations with voice-overs and musical soundtracks. Because there are so many variables in this arena, however, prices cannot be quoted without first consulting with the client and determining the range and complexity of the project. Generally, we charge $60.00 an hour for animation work and $75.00 an hour for Flash movie creation. But before you make a decision to employ these

kinds of presentations on your website, there are a few important caveats to take into consideration.

The Visually Compelling Distraction
With high-speed access to the Web now growing at a rapid pace, many Web sites are turning to animation and sound to entice Web surfers into visiting their sites and recommending them to others. The key here, however, is to make such presentations as appropriate as possible from a marketing standpoint. Though these sensually stimulating multimedia experiences can be very effective in some ways, they can also be distracting, especially when used on sites whose primary goal is simply to sell products. For the most part, e-commerce sites should concentrate on clarity, simplicity of ordering and navigation, and visuals that depict products in the best possible light. Adding complex animations to the mix can often distract the customer from his or her decision-making process, even when the presentation is an excellent one.

Consider a visitor who is browsing around your site with no real product in mind, just kind of thinking in a general way about things to buy in a certain category. This person is an ideal prospective impulse buyer, however, suddenly he or she is presented with a page that is simply spectacular in its presentation of a complex and sensually stimulating Flash movie. The visitor is so impressed that he or she immediately e-mails or calls a few friends to tell them about the page, discussing it with them and forgetting all about his/her original purpose for visiting your site.

On the other hand, let's say you have a new, innovative product you either manufacture or distribute, and a demonstration of the product is essential to explaining its usefulness. In such a case, an animated movie of the product in action might be exactly the right marketing ploy. Or, let's say you have a psychology practice or a vacation service, and you want to get across a thematic feel for what you offer. For this, a movie that depicts calming scenery with a musical background, or people having fun on a tropical island may be just the ticket.

The point here is not to include fancy animation and music just because it can be done; always think of the possible drawbacks and tailor your presentations to the purposes of your website, interior page or section.

Simple animations, such as moving logos, timed appearance of certain elements, rollover effects that change graphics or text when the cursor hovers over them, etc., are generally effective and not overly distracting. And simple sound effects can also help to add impact to a site or page. Be careful, however, not to include too many animations on one page that happen simultaneously.

The Sweet Soothing Sound Of . . . Rap?
There are some pitfalls as well in the use of music. Maybe you have run onto a site or two in your travels that plays background music you do not care for? Even if it is appropriate for the particular product or theme of the page, music appreciation is wholly a matter of personal taste and, while Beethoven may be effective for one person, another may find his music too suggestive of class distinction and therefore distasteful (or may just not like classical music at all). Likewise, loud Rap beats may be fine when trying to sell car stereo equipment to kids, but that customer base also includes many adults who are liable to click off and never visit the site again if confronted with such "noise."

Some of this can be ameliorated by including an option to stop the music by clicking on a button, however, most such button options we see on the Web today are far to small or hard to interpret to be of any real use. If you are going to use music that will appeal only to a limited audience (which means most music) and you want to include an option for the visitor to turn the music off, that option should be very clearly delineated from the moment the page is opened.

Simple or subtle sound effects, on the other hand, can be quite effective. For example, the soothing sound of waves lapping at the shoreline for a site that has to do with water or island vacations, or perhaps a variation of the "Doink" sound from the TV show "Law And Order" to accompany certain actions on a website for a firm of attorneys. You might even choose to use verbal cues for certain functions that actually tell the visitor what is happening when they click on a certain page element.

Whatever you choose to incorporate into your Web design in the way of multimedia, always keep in mind the primary goal of the site, and never let the complexity or nomenclature of your presentation distract from that or turn off a portion of your audience. --- --- (Political Satire) --- --- (Stereo Technical Help) --- --- --- (Help For Writers) --- ---