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We've all seen the 'cool' websites that have tons of animation, shining buttons and the whole page reorganizes itself when you click on the next page. These website do look fun and exciting. You have to ask yourself, does this work for my company? It comes down to your audience. Are you targeting business professionals, teenagers, college students, men, women, the list goes on and on. If you want animation on your website there are several possibilities and variations that can be used and they all have their place.
Flash. Everyone knows about it, but not everyone understands it. Flash allows for great interactive animation but browsers and platforms can be a nightmare. Think about your potential users… if they will be on the iPad, then think again. Is it possible they will be on old machines? You don't want to hurt their online experience and potentially drive them away. Depending on what you are animating, file size can also become an issue… which in turn slows the load time of your website.
Animated GIF. These can be great. They add the animation and 'fluff' you want but are universal. They have their drawbacks however. Without getting too technical, they can be rough looking. It's just the nature of a Gif. Gif stands for Graphic Interchange Format, it can only hold 256 colors… which can make your image look pretty grainy.
PNG. These don't work like a traditional animated GIF, they take some additional code to get them rolling. PNG stands for Portable Network Graphics. A PNG has 2 features that makes them really exciting. A PNG can store millions of colors, there's really no limit, just file size. And they have an alpha layer, a PNG can be transparent. To illustrate this: a PNG can have a 50% opacity applied to it. Think of that as looking through tinted glass. You can see what's behind it. This used to be an issue with older browsers, but with advances in code and browser technology, there is a place for PNGs on everyone's website. PNGs can get a little large, it's up to the developer to monitor the PNG creation and make sure they are optimized for the best load time.
I hope this helped clear up some questions about animation on your website. Feel free to contact me with additional questions.