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Adding Animation to Your Web Pages 
 
by Scott Nesbitt July 20, 2005

Animation can be a great way to attract visitors to your Web site. This article offers some tips on how to it.

If you're like most Web authors, you want to take your online offerings to the next level. Static text and graphics are fine, but a surefire way to catch the attention of the jaded Web surfer is add moving images, text, or a banner to your site. Let's face it: animation gets noticed.

Adding animation to your Web pages is fairly easy. All you need to do is decide what you want, pick the software to do the job, and away you go.

Types of Web Animation

There are several ways to create animation for Web pages. Some are simple, others aren't. The two most common and popular types of Web animation are frame-based animation and Flash.

Frame-Based Animation

The oldest form of Web animation is the animated GIF. GIF is the most common graphics format on the Web, and it can store and display multiple images. Animated GIFs are a lot like traditional animation. Each image in an animated GIF is a single frame. Each frame does nothing on its own, but when played they appear as a continuous sequence. This is why animated GIFs are often called "frame-based animation".

GIF isn't the only image format the supports animation. Two younger formats, PNG (Portable Network Graphics) and MNG (Multi-Image Network Graphics), can also do it. What's more they support more colors than GIF -- 16 million instead of 256. The only problem is that users may need a Web browser plug-in to view animated PNGs and MNGs.

Frame-based animation is that it's simple, and you don't need expensive software to create it. On the downside, complex animations increase the file size tremendously. On top of that, you can't add sound effects to your animation.

Flash

Flash has become an incredibly popular and widespread Web animation format. And for good reason: it produces beautiful, rich content. With Flash, you can create your own images, or import existing ones. Then you can add some amazing effects as well as sound. In fact, Flash is so powerful and flexible that people have created complex presentations and games with it.

Flash's biggest selling point (besides its flexibility) is that animations look the same, regardless of the browser or operating system visitors to your Web site use. Flash files are often quite small, although large ones aren't uncommon. But in order to view a Flash animation, Web surfers need to download a free plug-in.

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