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Website Animation — Why it Matters and What You Need to Know

How can you make your law firm website stand out to visitors?

That’s a good question. After all, you’re dealing with potential clients who view hundreds of marketing messages each day. Today’s increasingly savvy and choosy consumers can be quick to judge your law firm on the quality of its site (particularly if it’s of the old school, static variety).

While there are a range of tactics you can use, animation can offer a robust solution. When done correctly, multimedia elements such as interactive slides, themes, photos, video and the like can:

  • capture visitor attention
  • energize an otherwise vanilla site
  • make a lasting first impression on Web visitors
  • showcase your law firm’s practice areas and fortify its brand

The key word here is “correctly.” Animation can be disastrous if applied in the wrong way (think of the sites you’ve seen with enough neon and blinking elements to rival the Las Vegas skyline). And not all animation packages work the same — particularly when it comes to mobile devices.

Yes, it can be enough to make your head throb. Take heart, however: A little basic website animation knowledge can help you make informed decisions.

Adobe Flash

For years, the mainstay platform has been Adobe Flash, which can be used to create individual animations or even entire websites. It remains extremely popular — by some estimates, 95 percent of all Web users have the technology installed on their computers.

But while Flash is still a workhorse, its usage is in decline. The software’s detractors have criticized it for everything from excessive bandwidth demands to intermittent security issues. It also can’t be read by search engines — something that can be problematic for websites built on the platform. Another point to note: Apple’s mobile products don’t support Flash. The upshot: Flash isn’t viewable on iPads or iPhones, which eliminates a huge portion of the rapidly growing mobile Web market.

jQuery

The most common Flash alternative is jQuery. Like Flash, it can be used to create animations, video and audio. Unlike Flash, however, users don’t need to have it installed on their computers. It also works seamlessly on all major Web browsers. And sites built with jQuery can be indexed by search engines. Finally, it allows animations to work on all mobile devices, including iPads and iPhones. Given the crucial nature of SEO and the mobile market, the last two attributes make jQuery worth considering.

What’s next?

While jQuery has emerged as today’s best animation option, the tech world continues to move at light speed. Case in point: The Web community is now abuzz over HTML5, a platform that allows websites to display animations and multimedia elements such as audio and video. Even Adobe has embraced the change — the company has given up on creating Flash products for mobile devices and is now developing HTML5-based programs.

In short, Flash is on its way out, jQuery is here now and HTML5 is on its way in. That’s where we stand today. Of course, it could all look different in 12 months. Yes, the pace can feel dizzying, but staying informed is one of the most important marketing moves you can make – if you want to stay visible to potential clients.

If you would like to learn more about how FindLaw can help with law firm website design solutions, please contact us for a free marketing consultation.


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