Flash gallery templates reviewed

flash templates

I have a love/hate relationship with Flash. It gives you great freedom when designing, allowing you to use fonts, graphics and animation with carefree abandon. On the other hand, Flash sites are currently less likely to rank well with search engines than comparable HTML sites and the file sizes are generally larger increasing the wait for your site’s visitors.

So, sometimes an HTML/CSS site is best (blogs, forums and a whole host of other things) and sometimes Flash is the obvious answer (animation, games and, see below, galleries).

When doing a Flash gallery you may like to consider purchasing a template and customizing it. I’ve recently done this twice with two different templates and the two experiences couldn’t have been more different.

The Flashnifties positive experience

flashnifties screenshot and logo

For $40 I got Flash Media Gallery from Flashnifties. This Flash template is a multi-category gallery which displays images, videos, text and SWF files along with music.

The first and most important thing to say about the Flashnifties template is that the support documentation is excellent. And if your questions about customization are not answered in the FAQs there is a forum with helpful moderators for each of their products.

The end product is viewable in Flash Player 6 so good for those that haven’t updated for a few years. It can be sized to fit any pixel dimensions. One disadvantage I would give is that the image thumbnails take a while to load as they are actually smaller versions of the main image rather than separate smaller thumbnail files.

All in all, I would say that any product from Flashnifties is probably worth the money. Don’t worry too much about a lack of Flash or ActionScript knowledge – most of the changes you’ll want to make will be to text files not the FLA.

The Flashmint negative experience

flashmint screenshot and logo

Unfortunately just about everything that was good about the Flashnifties experience was bad about the Flashmint experience. A massive $134.00 (how much?) will buy you a photo gallery template from one of the big boys, Flashmint.

Flashmint boast on their website “both professional web masters and beginners won’t find it difficult to modify the templates according to any requirements.” Actually reading that rings alarm bells!

Most of the changes needed to be made to the ActionScript 3.0 and it required Flash Player 9 to play it. ActionScripts can be structured in many different ways and without adequate instructions the scripts need to be deciphered first which takes time. The Flashmint template came with zero supporting documentation.

Flashmint did have a support department, here is a quote from them: “we unfortunately don’t provide assistance in editing Flash and ActionScript”. I have asked them what support they actually provide. I’m still waiting for an answer.

The one subject the support department were keen to explain was how to employ their customization services.

This particular Flashmint template allows for images to be displayed nice and big. But I would bet there’s a better one out there for the money.

What to look for in a Flash gallery template?

  • What version of Flash Player is it? Adobe’s claim that 98% of computers have Flash Player 9 is, in my opinion, grossly exaggerated. You’re safe-ish with Flash Player 6.
  • Does the site have a good FAQs section? Flashmint does have FAQs but you can tell at a glance that it’s basic and not useful.
  • Does the site have a good forum? If you check out Flashnifties forums you can see that every question gets answered pretty well.
  • How much is it? Prefer $40 to $134.

Did you enjoy the article? If so, please share!

Download my 2 free e-books and 2 free MP3s on running an online business & getting clients

Plus a list of my 12 favorite resources for online business

two free books and two free mp3s and a list of favorite online tools

Comments

  1. Annie Mall says

    do not know Rob
    havent bought anything from Flashnifties (Im not a regular templates buyer) but have spent a fortune for Flashmint CMS template ($199 to be precise) – http://www.flashmint.com/show-template-2298.html
    I do like the design a lot and nevertheless there is still much to do before I could launch the new site – ‘big boys’ as you called them helped me greatly with the template selection (CMS templates are much easier to work with) and they did respond to all support tickets I submitted
    anyway, I am really sorry for your negative experience
    cheers

  2. says

    Yes Emre you are right about the financial implication of using Flash – Flash elements will cost much more to design than their HTML counterparts. Thanks for your comment!

    Hi Annie Mall, thank you for detailing your very different experience with Flashmint. I’ve had a look at the template you bought and it includes a lot of Flash and ActionScript. Did they help you with that? They told me they didn’t help specifically with Flash and ActionScript. I noticed a typo on one of the tooltips of my template and asked them whereabouts in the ActionScript it was and they sent me the FLA and told me to go through the pages and pages of script to work out where they’d made the mistake! Then when I complained about that they ignored me. I’m amazed you found them helpful please tell me how they helped you because I found them useless! :)

  3. Annie Mall says

    Rob, this Flex CMS Template that I am currently working on,
    there is no fla file provided. Thus, there is nothing to edit in Flash (that was the main reason for selecting this template) and it really saves me a great deal of time (and efforts to say the truth :) )
    regards, Annie

  4. says

    Hi Annie Mall, yes it’s good when the editing can be done outside the FLA – I had that with the Flashnifties template. I’m glad your experience with Flashmint was better than mine. :) Thanks for getting back to me.

    Hi Geoff, interesting links which I’ve checked out. Great when something cheap works out. Thanks! A good thing about some of these templates is that they can teach you a bit about Flash and ActionScript.

  5. Cotizaciones says

    I use Greybox, and am satisfied by the results.
    For years that I do not use flash. I do not like it

  6. says

    Yes, I agree Greybox is cool. Flash is driving me up the wall at the moment – everything is so difficult to do now with AS3! Thanks for popping by!

  7. says

    I like flash so long as i can work out the correct coding ect . I think it looks way better than html but i always have to end up using html becuase of your very point. search engines. apparently google is getting better at reading it and were not far from having google being able to read some flash sites which i cant wait till.

    What i always find best (if i have the time) is doing elements in flash but most of it in html. But then you have issues with browser viewing it differently .

  8. says

    Hi will, I agree with you that Flash sites simply look better – or are easier to make look better – but that isn’t the whole story. I have been reading about Google’s improvements in indexing Flash. They can read Flash but I think the problem may be that Flash doesn’t have the hierarchy of content that HTML has, for example the different levels of headings (h1, h2, h3) which organizes the content. But I don’t know.

    And I agree the best compromise is to have an HTML site with Flash elements. I’m sure we’re not the only people tearing our hair out trying to get sites looking the same in all browsers. In fact, these blue boxes for the comments look slightly different in IE!

  9. perde says

    Thanks for the list, you can also have a look at the files on flashden.net. There are plenty of beatiful ones there.

  10. says

    There aren’t many free flash resource on the web but in my opinion you do not need them. Flash stuff is not that wanted anymore, maybe just a little bit in banners but that is all.

  11. ade says

    Flash is not used anymore on the web. People have migrated to javascript, ajax and so on. From time to time you see a flash banner but that is as much as you can get.

  12. says

    Thanks for all the info about Flashmint. Unfortunately I purchased a very expensive template from them to advertise my portfolio.
    I have emailed them 5 times for a solution ot my gallery upload problem and then asked for a refund. On all occassions I have heard nothing back from them. Their customer service sucks – take your money and then offer no sup-port unless you are willing to fork out even more money, which isnt mentioned in their pre sales propaganda. Avoid this lot if you can – go elsewhere, but whatever you do, if you purchase flashmint templates you will only have yourself to blame.
    My rating 0/10 – POOR

  13. says

    I’m not sure that Flash is only good for the odd banner. I still see great Flash sites for big luxury brands, for example.

    Anyway, Jason, thanks for leaving your comment about Flashmint’s appallingly bad customer service record. That was exactly my experience. I wrote emails that weren’t replied to. When they did reply it was to say they couldn’t be bothered to help me. I’m so sorry you wasted so much money on Flashmint. It’s amazing this company gets away with such dishonesty and, as you say, propaganda. Anyway, if anyone’s in any doubt – DON’T USE FLASHMINT!!!

  14. says

    I “deflashify” sites.

    Nowaways you can pretty much replicate most Flash functionality using Javascript and CSS. The only exception being video, audio and 3d viewing.

    Here are two sites, originally written 100% in Flash that were partially or completely deflashified by myself:

    http://www.arizona.uk.com

    http://www.bloomsburyhealthcentre.co.uk

    Flash is OK but in tiny amounts. As long as you don’t crash the person’s browser or get in the way – I think it’s OK. Here is a flash animation I did – only 4 kb.

    http://www.whitelightproduction.com/flash/whitelight.swf

  15. says

    Very interesting, Henry, I absolutely love the navigation on the http://www.arizona.uk.com site. It looks like Flash but is only an incredibly simple bit of CSS with animated GIFs – I’m going to have to try that somewhere one day. Maybe you did the animations in Flash but exported them as animated GIFs?

    Anyway, I think if you can recreate a Flash effect using JavaScript and CSS it’s probably better that you do so. There are some great resources for doing this: jQuery and MooTools are two of the most intriguing although I haven’t used them yet. I have a standard JavaScript image fader on my home page.

  16. says

    The original flash was not mine. Even the whole website. But what I did was to deflashify – keeping it as close to the original as possible (so others can’t tell the difference). I find that fun. Also optimising images – to make it very light and fast.

    Sometimes I am not given the original files, so when that happens I take screenshots. I have a very old Flash MX Editor. So I still use that.

    I think for arizona, I had only the bottle flash animations but not the buttons. So it was screenshots all along and reconstruct it Photoshop ImageReady 3.0

    I am still not sure about jQuery and MooTools, they “seem” to be too big. But I might be mistaken. I like minimal and to understand what is going on behind the scene. So if there is a bug – chances of me fixing it increases. I reinvent the wheel all the time, which is not a very clever or productive way to go about things.

    • says

      If you know what’s going on with JavaScript then I think that is a very good way of going about things. I just try to choose a solution that has a long established team of developers and a great community behind it and even then I run into problems. I think you can use some jQuery effects that are quite light without having to use the full package but I can understand why you’d not want to get involved with loads of code like that. In the end it comes down to experience I try to use different JavaScript resources on every new site I do.

  17. cam filmi says

    Thanks for article and share.Thanks for the list, you can also have a look at the files on flashden.net. There are plenty of beatiful ones there.

  18. says

    I think for arizona, I had only the bottle flash animations but not the buttons. So it was screenshots all along and reconstruct it Photoshop ImageReady 3.0

  19. tom says

    And I agree the best compromise is to have an HTML site with Flash elements. I’m sure we’re not the only people tearing our hair out trying to get sites looking the same in all browsers.

  20. says

    Thanks for article and the list but flash stuff are not in much use now a days. html based sites and wordpress are better. Wtb activeden have some good flash stuff

  21. says

    Thanks for the comments, everyone. I agree Flash isn’t a great medium for the internet all the time. Thanks for the site recommendations for FlashDen and ActiveDen, they both look good. Cheers!

  22. perde city says

    There aren’t many free flash resource on the web but in my opinion you do not need themm